I was recently on a conference call and struggled to hear the discussion. It sounded as though one of the participants was moving their phone around, making it difficult to hear anyone speaking. When you are on a conference call, there are certain guidelines all participants need to follow to avoid situations like the one I experienced.

Therefore, if you are participating in a conference call, here are a few guidelines that you should follow:

Given that cell phones add a lot of background noise, try to avoid calling into a conference call using a cell phone. I have been on conference calls where some participants have been on a cell phone, so I can attest to how loud and distracting the background noise is. If you have to use a cell phone, use the mute button.

Furthermore, cordless phones can also generate a large amount of static. This typically happens when you move out of range of the phone base or when you are near small electric appliances.

Just because a conference call is not a face-to-face meeting does not mean you can join in whenever you want. As with any other meeting, join the conference call on time. Regardless of meeting type, joining late is rude and disrespectful.

Given that all participants on the call will hear any background noise, find a quiet place. If possible, close your office door. Otherwise, take advantage of the mute button on your phone.

On the topic of background noise, one of the biggest rule breakers when on a conference call is shuffling papers. The noise actually sounds very loud on the phone.

I have mentioned a few times to take advantage of the mute button. However, do so cautiously. You would not want to make a remark not intended for all participants on the conference call only to realize that you forgot to put the mute back on. Conversely, remember to take the mute button off when you are speaking to participants.

Finally, as with any other type of meeting, wait your turn to speak. If someone else is currently speaking, wait until they are finished to speak up.