Careers

3 things NOT to do on your office conference calls

Just like meetings and emails, conference calls are part and parcel of the workplace. And with more people working from home, these phone sessions are becoming more important than ever.

A bad conference call can result in poor communication, results and morale. Yet an effective call can move the ball forward on critical initiatives so that you and your team achieve more enduring success.

Here are three things to keep in mind so you can crush your calls:

Don't forget the mute button

During a conference call, the most important button on your phone is the mute key. If you're not talking, it helps to place your phone on mute.

We've all been on calls on which you hear random background noise, from babies crying to elevator music. Then an ensuing discussion breaks out: "We hear some noises. Who is that?" And if you're taking the call from outdoors, always place the call in mute mode, because there's a strong chance that people can hear things that you don't notice like wind and street noise.

When people can hear what's going on around you, it exposes your location and may send the message that you don't take the call or the people on it seriously.

Don't heavy breathe

When some people breathe in-and-out, they make an audible noise, which can be picked up by sensitive phone receivers. If you're a heavy breather, you will be sharing more about your respiratory system than your fellow conference call participants care to know.

Your inhaling and exhaling will lead to offline whispers of "Who is breathing on the line?" You don't want to be that guy or girl. This is another good reason to master the mute button.

Don't let awkward silence linger

Every conference call should have a leader. It's up to this person to set the agenda and drive the meeting.

Because you can't typically see people on phone conference calls, there can be a lag between hearing and responding among participants. This creates an awkward silence where people start to talk over each other. The leader should referee the meeting in case things get out of hand.

Moreover, when there is awkward silence, it's up to the leader to move the agenda along to the next salient point. Don't let the silence fester because that's where meetings become marathons. And that can impede the efforts of what you're trying to accomplish.

Chopra is the author of The Healing Self with Rudolph E. Tanzi, the founder of The Chopra Foundation, co-founder of Jiyo and The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Sehgal is a New York Times bestselling author, former vice president at JPMorgan Chase, multi-Grammy Award winner, and U.S. Navy veteran. Chopra and Sehgal created Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, inspired by American immigrants.

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