How to combat tele-awkwardness

Picture the scene: you’re on the line with Janet from the New York office. You venture a tentative ‘hi’ into space and await a response. A few seconds of silence follows, broken by both of you asking how each other are at exactly the same time, made all the more awkward by the transatlantic delay. Grainy video footage shows a grey image of Janet’s face from a too-close, unflattering angle as she looks through her emails.

‘Er, I said how are you. Yes fine. What? Oh yes, I’m fine thanks. Sorry what was that? Yes, very busy. We’re so busy here. You know how it is, always busy, hahahahahahaha.’

We’ve all been there. That moment on a conference call while you wait for everyone to dial in. It’s one of the cringiest parts of the cringefest that is conference calling. Here’s how Octopedes deal with the excruciating awkwardness.

Jack Banks, Business Development Executive and one of the most phone literate among us, says: ‘Good old British weather chat!’

Account Director Ella Darlington says: ‘What everyone did on the weekend, where they’ve been on holiday and the weather. I also talk about personal interests that I share with the client or person on the call.’

MD Pete Hendrick says: ‘The to and fro of deciding whether to enable your camera; ‘In our spare room’, ‘Not done my hair’, etc.’

Senior Copywriter and phone-phobe Nic Jones says: ‘I’m grateful every day that it’s mainly my esteemed colleagues in client services (i.e. the ones hosting and introducing me on the call) who have to handle that awkwardness.’

Digital Content Producer and yours truly Emily Andrews says: ‘’Where are you dialling in from?’, is the equivalent of the, ‘Where did you come in from?’ or, ‘Did you have far to come today?’ opener at physical meetings.’

Client Director and noted masochist Toby Brown says: ‘Sit in silence and see who breaks first.’ (Yikes.)

Do you have small-talk advice? Why not set up a Zoom call and tell us all about it… or just talk to us about the weather – we’re not picky.