3 Tips for Mute Button Etiquette on a Conference Call

Do you rock the mute button on conference calls? Here are 3 thoughts:

  1. Function: The first thing you should do when dialing into a conference call is hit the mute button. There’s nothing worse than getting on a conference call and hearing the sounds of the freeway behind you. I consider this using the mute button out of convenience for the other people on the call.
  2. Sidebar: Ask for a timeout on the call if you are going to sidebar. Even if you’re a seasoned pro at sidebar “confab” you’ll still get busted about 1 out of 20 calls missing something important. It’s OK to just say, “hold on one second, we’re going to discuss something quickly here and throw the call on mute.” (BTW this is a negotiating tactic rarely used in F2F meetings nowadays, which I’d personally like to see come back)
  3. Tacet: As an orchestral percussionist in school, I spent a ton of time waiting patiently for my time to bang a drum, marimba, or timpani. My sheet music would usually just say TACET and I would basically sit there, listen, and be as quiet as possible. I think the majority of people in meetings aren’t needed and are only on a meeting invite out of respect (a.k.a. poor planning.) The key to the Tacet is not zoning out and being alert. My mom called this selective listening (sorry mom!)

Unfortunately, the mute button is probably the most commonly used business feature in technology behind email. Remember that for business, you have a person on the other end of the call. I’d challenge you to do your next conference call without having your mute button engaged (put a post-it on the button)