Conf-call etiquette #1: Why are my conference calls noisy?

We have all sat through conference calls that were difficult to follow… most likely reason? Noises on the line…

Yes, we hear background sounds, cracking sounds or booming sounds and wonder what it is.
Well, its nothing more than sounds that are picked up by the microphones of the callers on the conference call. Some of us might be taking the call from an airport lobby, a car or simply from a public space with lots of ambient noises. Sometimes the office itself is noisy and the desktop phone picks it all up!
It is good practice to put yourself on mute when not speaking in a telephone conference. This avoids all noises to be passed on to the rest of the callers. When you do have to speak, just un-mute yourself and talk. When you are talking, today’s microphones and recording technologies will suppress the background noise since your voice will be much louder (its a matter of signal-to-noise ratio in techno-speak).
To put yourself on mute during a conference call, press the mute button on your phone, not the hold button
Most desk phones and mobile phones have a mute button, it usually looks like this:

When you press “hold” a music is usually played to entertain the person on hold… this means that if you do that during a conference call, everyone will be hearing the music!, moreover, when on hold you will not be able to hear anyone speak as the speaker volume is also turned off… so you will not be able to hear the complaints of the people on the line. The hold button cannot be missed, it usually looks like this:

Alternatively, if you want to be sure that you do not mistake hold for mute, in a call you can enter *1 to mute and un-mute yourself.
Have great conferences!