Top 10 conference call fails and how to avoid them

Lockdown and WFH have undoubtedly changed the way most of us work and, in the localization field, the number of video conferences has increased exponentially.

So here’s Molok’s list of the 10 most frequent conf-call fails and (some) tips on how to avoid them.


1- Microphone, video, audio not working

Let’s start with one of the most common issues: you start a conversation but no one can hear/see you at the other end. You wave your hand, try to speak louder but nothing happens. Not the best start.

Tip: A couple of minutes before the conversation starts, always check your mic, speakers/headphones, video settings. It takes 10 seconds (Settings > Audio/video setup > Check > Done!)


2 – Activate your cam in an audio conf-call

You’re furiously writing something, right before the conference starts but then the other participants start the call, you press a button and accidentally activate the web cam… while you’re still in your pyjamas.

Tip: change the shortcut for video activation and be careful which buttons you press before a conference starts.


3 – The other participants catch you doing something else instead of listening to the conversation

You were sure your ninja fingers were typing super silently and never imagined that breathing into your mic could add some very annoying noise to the audio of the call, as if Darth Vader had just joined it.

Tip: if mono-tasking is not an option for you, remember to put the mic on MUTE when you’re not talking.

Tip 2: stick to mono-tasking


4 – Forgetting to unmute the mic and talking with the mic off

“Are you still there?” If someone asks you this question while you’re still talking, well… you’ve probably forgotten to unmute your mic and your last few minutes of talking hasn’t been heard by anyone.

Tip: Always try to associate the icon of the open mic with the fact that you’re speaking. Like the “on-air” sign during live shows.


5 – The other participants hear the audio of a video you’re playing during the call

We’ve all experienced this: you’ve just opened a new tab in your browser, to check some info that could be very useful during this call, but a super loud commercial video starts and now everyone knows that you’re the 10000th viewer of that website and you could win a new smartphone.

Tip: always check your audio input settings before a call and select “only mic”.


6 – Someone is shouting in another room

Right in the middle of the conference call, someone from the kitchen breaks the conversation: “Lunch is ready!”

Tip: pretty easy this time, close the door before starting a call.


7 – Inviting the wrong people to a group call

You’re the moderator of the group call and you were really sure that the Sandra you added to the conversation was the PM who’s handling the project you’re going to talk about in the call. Unfortunately, she’s your old schoolmate, who’s just answered with a kind “Hey sweetie, how are you? Who are all these people?”

Tip: manually type the name of the participants and always check their profile pictures to be 100% sure of who you’re adding to conversations.


8 – Checking your hair, makeup, fingernails on video calls

Quarantine didn’t allow you to go to the hairdresser and you really can’t stand the strand of hair that’s always falling in your eyes. Or perhaps your beard has never been that long. And what about the lipstick that’s all wrong. Unfortunately, the webcam isn’t actually a mirror…

Tip: do a little check on another webcam application, just before the conference starts so you don’t have to do it later.


9 – Filters and backgrounds change

An interesting new feature in some conference call apps is the option to play with the background. You don’t always have the best background when answering a call so this is a good tool for avoiding any embarrassment. But sometimes you might overdo it with these background effects and theme changes and end up deleting part of your body… hiding an arm or even… blurring your face too.

Tips: there are no tips for this. Just don’t.


10 – You didn’t leave the conversation when you thought you did…

…and now your colleague knows that his or her idea was not as brilliant as you said it was.

Tip: ALWAYS check that the conversation ended, all icons are greyed out, no red telephone icons are displayed