10 Things We Hate About Conference Calling

Conference calling is one of those universal office experiences that we all love to hate. There’s nothing like the phrase “I’ve got a conference call in a minute” to cause an “Urrgghhh” of sympathy to echo around the office and set eyes a-rolling. In honour of Sentinel’s new Secure Instant Teleconferencing feature – SIT, we’ve put together a list of all our conference calling pet peeves (which Sentinel’s SIT has sought to solve).

1 .Scheduling a conference call in the first place

The more people on the call, the more I consider finally packing it all in and opening that alpaca farm I’ve always dreamed about. Sorry Dave, I didn’t realise you leave the office at 3pm on a Wednesday, and thank you Karen for alerting me to the fact that you have a meeting with a client in Starbucks at 11 but could make it on Friday at 3:47pm, Monday at 2am or could join us spiritually via your chakra guide during your yoga class on Sunday morning. Excuse me while I go and google pictures of baby llamas for a while.

2. PINs and Dial-In Numbers

I’m joining a call, not opening a bank account in the Channel Islands. Please don’t make me recite the numerical value of Pi to the 50th digit just to have a chat to (gasp) 2 people at the same time.

3. Working out Timezone Differences

So many companies have offices in other countries. Surely there’s an easier way that doesn’t involve me having to look up what EST, GMT, BST every other combination of letters with T at the end might possibly mean. I don’t need the existential crisis of working out what timezone I’m in and whether that means that if time is relative, is space relative too and therefore is Andy in California even real or is he a salesman on a different plane of existence? Time to go back to my baby llama pictures again.

4. Waiting for People to Dial-In

Nothing like awkward chit-chat with people who are already a bit grumpy about having to do a conference call while we wait for everyone to appear. Take a shot (of coffee) every time someone mentions the weather or how close to the weekend we are.

5. Not Knowing Who’s There

Some platforms let you record an awkward little self-announcement so everyone knows who has made it past the PINs, dial-in numbers and small talk, but some don’t. Who are the mysterious lurkers who remain silent? Who just suggested marketing your new energy drink to toddlers? Who was it that just requested a copy of the Daycare-ffeine sales figures? We’ll never know.

6. Sound Quality

When you call one person, the sound is fine. When you call another person straight after, the sound is still fine. Why then, when you call more than one person at once, does the sound quality drop to pre-Industrial Revolution standards? Oh that’s right, it’s because James in account management is a mouth breather. There’s always at least one.

7. Un-muted Background Noise

We’ve sent James on a nostril breathing course and established that yes, it is indeed only 2 days until the weekend – so what’s holding us up now? Susan is eating a packet of crisps that sound like they’re made of glass, and has forgotten to mute her microphone during her mid-lurk snack. The whale song coming from Karen’s yoga class is pretty distracting too.

8. People Moaning About the Un-Muted Background Noise

It’s happened – I’ve become the very thing that I hate. But surely we don’t need all 20 participants to say “Is Susan eating crisps?” or “Is there a whale on the call?” I wish I had a button that could mute you all. Luckily, Sentinel’s SIT does! Ah, sweet, sweet silence.

9. People Sneaking Off

After all we’ve been through together – the mouth breathing, the Da Vinci code dial-in number, the crisps made of glass – you hear the beep. The traitor alarm. Someone has jumped ship. GET BACK HERE ANDY, I SPENT AN HOUR CALCULATING TIME DIFFERENCES BETWEEN OUR PARALLEL UNIVERSES.

10. Writing Up a Summary of What Was Discussed

Finally, once the ordeal is over and we’ve finally discussed whatever it was that was of course impossible to settle via email, we breathe a sigh of relief and hang up. Maybe we treat ourselves to the packet of crisps that we’re suddenly craving and do a quick online search for local alpaca breeders. But the trauma isn’t over.

To rub salt into the wound, the organiser then has to type up a nice neat summary, editing out the 20 iterations of “Whose microphone isn’t muted?!” and rundowns of people’s weekend plans. Then you email that to everyone, and in a couple of days email it again to those who don’t know how to search their inbox.

Then guess what? It’s time to schedule the next one.

Sentinel is a crisis management solution designed to provide communications during a serious incident. As much as we all hate conference calls, it is actually pretty important to talk to your A-Team during an emergency, so we developed Secure Instant Teleconferencing (SIT) as a feature to make conference calling less of an ordeal. Here’s how:

  1. It works by instantly sending a text invite. No “So when are you free for a chat” chats needed.
  2. No dial-in numbers or PINs. Just a link in an SMS.
  3. Participants can join as and when they can, even if they miss the beginning of the call because they’re working on ADT (Alternate Dimension Time).
  4. Sentinel can share important documents with people, even if your servers or phone lines go down. So Susan will still have access to the business continuity plans, even if it takes her half an hour to eat her glass-crisps.
  5. You know exactly who’s on the call, and only those who are sent a link can join (no sneaky lurkers).
  6. We’ve done our best to make the sound quality as good as any other phone call, but you might need to stop taking business calls on your Nokia 3310, Snake or no Snake.
  7. You have the power to mute. Use it wisely, with great power comes great responsibility.
  8. Mute the people who are moaning too. You’ve got important crisis management to get on with.
  9. You can’t stop people sneaking off the call, but you will be able to name and shame them.
  10. Sentinel gives you a post-incident log of all the steps taken during the incident. So when you review how it went, you’ll see that Andy jumped ship and left the call. Traitor.



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