You know that person who always types loudly on conference calls? Or the one with the dog barking in the background? Of course, you do. They’re at every meeting, in every company, every day.

Here are some of the personality types everyone seems to run into on conference calls around the world – how many do you recognise?

The person who can’t seem to find the mute button


Despite the ‘can everyone please go on mute’ request some people just don’t seem to get it. We’ve all been on calls where the unmistakable sound of a jaw biting into an apple or loud typing distracts everybody from the business at hand.

The person with the dog in the background


It’s one of the common pitfalls of working at home. Dogs can be pretty distracting, especially if it’s sitting on the lap of a coworker participating in the call. Or even if it’s just excited that the post has arrived.

Thankfully, there’s a new technology that can detect dog barking – and other unwanted background noises such as sirens – and alert you to hit that mute button.

The person who won’t turn on the video feed


Okay, we’ve all been overslept, only to realise that an important video conference starts in five minutes. So while everybody else presents their shining faces, this person knows how they look first thing in the morning, and refuses. They’ll usually participate by phone, giving some excuse like “the video isn’t working on my end”.

The one who isn’t paying attention


This person is so distracted by other things that he can’t pay attention to what’s going on. You’ll know they’ve not been listening when you ask them a question and their reply will be something like, “sorry, the connection dropped out there, could you say that again?” Yeah, right.

The loud one


This guy either doesn’t understand how volume works or thinks he’s the most important person in the room. Either way, he’s annoying.

Despite great technology and smart team members, online, virtual or video meetings can easily become a comedy or errors, thanks to – well, there is no other way to say it – normal human behavior. While there are ways to improve productivity, such as outlining expected conference call etiquette and using high-quality conferencing tools, people will always be people.

The right technology can help.

Modern online meeting tools can help keep background noise to a minimum and detect common sounds like your own typing (!), dogs and sirens.  And alert you to mute your computer.  Team collaboration features like file sharing and whiteboarding can help keep people on task and attentive, while support for multiple devices in a single meeting makes it easier for everybody to join in on time.

Thanks to Karen D Schwartz, Cisco