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Last month I wrote a blog post about course interruptions. Yesterday it happened again. Only this time it was far worse. I had 15 delegates on my online session. For the first 10 minutes everything was fine and then suddenly..BOOM! It sounded like one of the attendees was attending the session from a kids party.

In the background I could hear music. One minute it sounded like a steel drum band and the next minute I could hear Jingle Bells (I kid you not – in the middle of March!). Then I heard the sound of kids crying!

Not only was it off-putting for me, it was off-putting for the other attendees – and they told me as much through the Webex chat facility. Unfortunately, the teleconferencing system that we use doesn’t have the facility for the host to mute the other participants. UPDATE: My colleague has done some investigating and the company that provides our TC facilities have recently added this feature.

It was obvious that somebody hadn’t muted their phone, so I did all the usual stuff…asked them (politely) to put their phones on mute, typed up a message in a PowerPoint slide (which could be seen by all attendees via screen-sharing). I even resorted to “a minute’s silence” in the hope that “the culprit” would realise – although that “backfired” when I received several messages in the Webex chat asking why they couldn’t hear me. Eventually I asked them all to log off the phone call and call back in, which they all did – and back came the music too.

This went on for about 10 minutes…and suddenly…silence. I don’t think “the culprit” had put the phone down as the teleconferencing system emits a beep whenever someone leaves or joins. So where were we…oh yes, the joys of ITIL and Remedy and Incident Management. Another 10 minutes passed…BOOM! Oh no, the music’s back. I very nearly abandoned the course, but with my commitments it would have been difficult to reschedule.

As I was sitting there waiting for the noise to disappear, I thought “no-one’s going to believe me”, so I fired up the iTalk app on my iPhone and recorded it. Listen here (MP3)