1. When kicking off the call, be sure to ask if someone new has joined every few minutes. Say, “Did someone join?” Pause. “Did someone join?”
2. Each time someone joins, provide a recap of all the guests who are present. Reintroduce every person to ensure there are no people “ghosts” on the call. Remember that there will, however, be actual “ghosts” on the call. This is a common issue with conference lines, but most “ghosts” are just curious and want to hear what you and your colleagues have to say about the current business landscape. Many of them used to work at companies themselves!
3. Stare directly at the conference phone speaker on the table while you talk. Even if you’re on a video call, it is critical that you maintain this eye contact with the speaker. Not only will this help trap the “ghosts” and keep them from getting restless, but it will also let others on the call know that you take them and their ideas seriously. They will “feel” you welcome them into the conversation.
4. If it sounds as though someone accidentally dropped from the call, ask, “Did we lose someone? Did someone drop?” No one will know because they will still be on the call, but it is polite to acknowledge a colleague who dropped, even if that colleague is a “ghost.”
5. Describe what all of the heads and faces and eyes around you are doing, especially if those heads are “nodding” or those faces are “smiling” or those eyes are “open.” If someone starts to dance, ABSOLUTELY describe this, for it is the highest honor on a conference call to have someone start dancing, and your calls will be free of “ghosts” for an entire month afterward.
6. Talking over one another is inevitable on a conference call. When it happens, instead of saying, “Sorry, go ahead,” say, “This one’s mine! This one’s mine, so everyone back the fuck off hahaha!” and see if the other person can take a joke. The funny thing will be that you aren’t actually joking—you’re just very passionate about what you have to say and are issuing an honest warning to anyone who tries to delay you from saying it. The only ones who will know this truth are the “ghosts” and probably Elgin who picks up on the subtlest things.
7. At the end of every conference call, cleanse the line by asking if the “ghosts” have anything they would like to add. Do not take offense or be alarmed if the “ghosts” remain quiet. No matter how many times your “ghosts” decide not to add anything after a call, DO NOT stop asking this question. You will rue the day that you do! You will spit fire from your eyes and your butt! You will quack like a duck! There will be no respite from this pain! It is INCREDIBLY important that the “ghosts” feel heard and appreciated so they don’t curse or possess you and your family forever. After you’ve given the “ghosts” enough time to speak (or not to speak), say, “Thank you for joining, ‘ghosts,’ we’ll get back to you with next steps.”
8. Unplug and remove the conference phone and, together, everyone must shuffle backwards out of the room. This will help undo the energy of everyone entering the meeting. What goes in, must come out—we don’t want to break the physics of our workspace, lest the “ghosts” find a way to cross over and steal our souls.
9. Tuck the conference phone into the bassinet by the office’s front door. Sing a lullaby of your choice, kiss your fingertips, and touch its conference phone “head” on your way out. Pray to the “ghosts” that it will be there when you return in the morning.
10. That night, over dinner, send out invitations for 17 more conference calls. Drift off to sleep on a gentle wave of RSVPs coming in from your colleagues, clients, and “ghosts” all over the world. What a gift—what a beautiful gift—to be so, so connected.