Let’s Have A Conference Call, Folks!

conferenceSingapore. Canada. California. New York. And, to ice the cake, Bangalore. The conference call was scheduled to start at 9:30 in the morning, and at 9:29, I realized that the phone in the corner did not have an international calling facility. I was sitting there, all prepared, my papers spread out in front of me, my pen handy, my head going over the different methods of opening the conversation, saying “Hi” or “Hello” or “Good morning”, and then, I sat there listening to the sweet yet hideous female voice telling me that this service isn’t available on this phone.

I wondered what to do. The clock ticked away the seconds of the one minute left for me to sign into the call. I gulped and took a decision that I knew I’d regret. I flipped open my mobile and punched in the numbers. I prayed hard, hoping the call would end in a few minutes. It didn’t. It lasted for an hour and fifty minutes. I sighed and resigned myself for a fat bill this month.

Conference calls, according to me, are a supreme waste of time. I think more work can be accomplished through an email. The first twenty minutes are obviously spent in introducing all the people in the call. The next thirty-odd minutes go away in outlining the agenda for the conference call. The remaining hour or so is spent in asking people to speak up; apologizing for loud cell phones; apologizing for the rackets behind their respective backs; and finally, asking everyone present if they understood the last point. More often than not, there will be at least three jerks who would not have paid attention, and they would ask you to repeat the last point.

The frustrating thing about these conference calls is that you cannot abuse anyone verbally. If the same meeting is held over emails, then before sending each and every email, you can let out the wonderful stream of expletives, and feel good about yourself and the other person’s lack of knowledge. You can question his/her ability to think straight, his/her man-/womanhood, his/her ridiculous name, and lot of other things.  But on a conference call, you have to hold your tongue and treat even the most outrageous of jerks with an amount of respect. It takes so much out of you. You can’t even make fun of funny names!

Anyway, I have had too many conference calls till now. I think I’ve devised a formula to survive each one of them. I call it “Apparent Indifference” – if you give the impression to the other jerks on the call that you’re indifferent about the outcome, then they’ll fall over themselves to spell out each and ever point of concern and make sure that each and every doubt has been answered. This, of course, helps me in making the meeting a success.

Oh, I hate conference calls. Of course, the only advantage the conference call has over board-room meetings is that you can fart loudly and get away with it. 😀

Published by Nikhil

Nikhil Kumar lives in Bangalore with his wife and their stuffed dog. They are both advertising professionals and lead very exciting lives on the streets, dodging traffic. Their fridge is filled with cans of Diet Coke and their water heater doesn't work. He doesn't smoke (up) anymore.

33 thoughts on “Let’s Have A Conference Call, Folks!

  1. so people get away from some meaningful comment by just shouting first, second so on!!! Good trick!


    Ur reply doesnt count as comment on ur own blog. 😛

  2. con calls are like ‘thippe saarsing’ the same dirt is raked from side to side….

    On your last line about the fart..with mike qualities improving dont be sure about being unheard…

  3. Oh yes you can abuse…theres something called a Mute feature in phones. Activate that and you can listen to the voices but no one can hear you… i have used this a lot of time while on client calls 🙂

  4. Why would you fart during a conference call ? 😀

    The best part during an international conference call is you can abuse the participants in your mother tongue and get away with it by telling them cross-talk !

    Btw, Eight 😀

  5. Ha Ha. This was good. I agree that the conference calls are the worst torture introduced by the corporate world. The worst part is that the “minutes” of the meeting has anyway to be made and sent over by email. The final decision would anyway be already devised and decided by the management so why keep a conference call and get our views?

    I liked the term, “Apparent Indifference” 🙂

    Keep Blogging!

  6. You can abuse them on the call, but the only problem is the jerks would ask you to repeat it,only this time you will be glad to do so. A Note on Fart and flushing the toilet, Mute the phone guys, Mute it!

  7. What makes you think one can get away with it?! I’ve heard people flush all the way in Bangalore! And the sorry things can’t even give the next guy the “Oh, *how* could you??!” look to wriggle out of it!

    The worst (rather best) part is they try to drown the flush sound by talking simultaneously – and then you know it’s the guy with the most “contemplative pauses” and er…s and um…s 😀

    Yes, PLEASE mute the phone….else the next call everybody will time the agenda by the flush. “Aah, there’s the flush, only 20 mins to go now!” 😉


  8. Don’t you get reimbursed from your company for the call? You must!! Apparent indifference sounds good 🙂

  9. I truly agree … For me this is my daily bread and butter – I spend almost 15 hours a week attending these conference calls and truly speaking its less effective than an email thread where one can atleast go back and pull that non-attentive idiot’s legs for not being up to the mark 🙂 …
    But well, can’t help it other than chatting while awaiting my turn to speak in the call … By the time I get to my point either, I am drowned and frustrated, or people start dropping off the calls which makes it even more bullshit, to wait for another couple of minutes to join back again lol …
    To add to it, one has to go back and pour down a long email of meeting minutes and send them to the same attendees – WTF – what’s the point in that? And if that has to be done – what is the point of blabbering all over the telephone lines across India, Europe, North America and of-course how can we forget our brothers in crime – China – Pun intended …

    Cheers 🙂

  10. I think so too. E-mails work much better than conference calls. Some people don’t even get what’s being discussed in a call. At least in an e-mail they can read it couple of times to get the point clear. 😀

  11. hahahahhaha :)))

    I think… meetings are waste…cong call are still beter… 😀 :D… introduction dont know…a s usually we have a daily call so we dont introduce daily 😉

  12. You made an international cal in mobile :O, that too for official purpose…nuts I shud say unless until you get a reimbursement.

    And conf calls,they are fun at times.Imagine folks from different time ones, one would be so damn sleepy as its early morning,other one wud be trying to rush to home in late evening and another one wud be in post lunch sesson and wont be able to grasp anything happening :)…thats wat happens for me on wednesday evenings.

  13. I understand when you say conference calls are sometimes waste of time. Don’t you guys have Airtel conference call numbers that are billed under project costs. I cringed at the thought of you having to pay whole cost for a call you clearly didnt want to be bothered about. 😦

  14. 18th! Or 17th, depending on how you look at it. 🙂

    Shouldn’t you be reimbursed?

    And these calls never really solve anything, because there are too many people involved.

    I think meetings are a waste of time.


    Quirky Indian

  15. Conference calls, Ohh I hate them specially because I have to take them at night after 9 PM —- Dude, being an indian is not easy :(, as an Indian you are expected to work late hours. When folks on the other end will not be in the office after 5 PM. So I am all with you in killing the conference monster 🙂

  16. Haha. Look on the bright side, conference calls are the perfect way to pass a dull day at work because they paint that impression of ‘working hard’ 😉

  17. a conf call with a brazilian, a canadian, a texan, 2 chinese, 2 kannadas, 1 mallu, 2 punjus, 3 gujjus, 1 german and 1 french guy… 1 persian as well!! that’s mostly once a week! and then there’s a minumum of 3 comparitively less diverse ones every living working day!!

    ha! welcome to the world of gibberish!

  18. @Shivya – you hit the nail on the head.

    The purpose of conference calls is either:

    1. Passing on the responsibility for whatever is to be done to someone else
    2. Pretending to be busy when you have nothing better to do

  19. Last week a friend of mine said that she will be right back to chat with me as she had a conference call to attend.

    She comes back an hour later and says, conference hi nahin hui…to my ques as to what were they doing for an hour she said…waiting for the call to happen…I mean WTH?

    BTW U can’t claim that international call???

  20. No wonder you gt every single point of con calls 🙂 all the best for the bill! Y cant u people make use of yahoo/skype facilities?

    Ahem – sorry i lost the count by now!!

  21. awwwwww I understand your pain as I have to go through this ritual every second day and most of the times, I am the one dozing off. Luckily apun local hai! 🙂 So, no fat bills!

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