Conference calls get our goats.

First, the dogs barking.  Vacuuming in the next room.  Or other distractables, like e-appliances, overloud conversations, random paper shuffling, texting.

Second come the introductions.  But only once.  [It’s hard to voice-ID during a business conversation if you’ve heard the name and the voice just one time.]

Third:  The sidebars, the jokes (when you’re not there), the awkward gaps.

Got the [silent] picture?  There seems to be a real need for a uniform manifesto for conference calls, with everyone agreeing and signing up, and with rules posted online and in our faces.

Sure, we’ve all been guilty, at one time or another, of multitasking, checking emails or smartphones when we think no one’s watching.  Still, since a meeting is a meeting is a meeting, we need to get things done.

Here are our demands:

  • Appoint a moderator who’s sensitive enough to tease people out of their shells and strong enough to just say no to monopolizers.
  • Stick to the topic – and to the time.  We all have other things to do.
  • Start right away.  And that doesn’t mean 11 on the dot; it means 10:57 am.
  • Pay attention.  Though email use can’t be monitored, it’s not hard to tell when folks are following the agenda.  Or not.
  • Test the technology … ahead of time.  Not on our watches.

Researchers state that business’ spend on conference calls will grow 9.6 percent yearly through 2017, with 65 percent of those being audio.  Being active and good listeners (and participants) simply equates to good corporate ­citizenship … and good communications.