Summary: We all have need to attend mandatory breaks, e.g. bathroom break, choked on a candy, or cat started shredding the couch. How to announce/manifest it professionally while on an audio-only conference call?
In an office situation, one would normally quietly leave the room (with or without an explicit gesture "I'll be right back") and quietly take the seat again. Office situation vary. I imagine a meeting of 3 to 10 people, with or without external participants (e.g. customers, suppliers), where everyone potentially have to speak. Not a public conference situation with one speaker. With or without a presentation.
I have been searching for the correct etiquette, but I only found tips for video conferences, where one would normally turn mic&camera off so that the others would understand one is off for a while. (or leave the room, mic off, to let the others see the empty seat)
But in my environment we normally have audio-only conferences, internally and with the customers.
And with the exception of the situation where the person is the main speaker (the break is either postponed or for all), what should be the appropriate etiquette to leave a meeting for a short interruption while making the other participants aware of own absence?
This assumes the person is not just an attendant, but might receive questions at some point. A situation such as "Alex, do you believe what Bob just said is technically feasible?" and Alex not responding is a bit embarassing.
I have been thinking of:
Warning the others
Unmutin and saying "sorry, I must go and be back in a short while" interrupts the focus to the speaker
As I said, it might create a moment of embarassment when you are required to answer and other are not aware that you are temporarily out
Has a side effect of distraction. I have experienced this multiple times. When one disappears from the meeting, others normally think of a connection problems and start commenting "Alex is offline. They may have network problems", and sometimes pause the meeting. Reappearing in a meeting may cause another distraction by the beep of the medium. Sometimes people stop until the person reappears. Excusing self "sorry I had to go to bathroom" is a bit awful when the others waited for you.
Sneaking into a conference room, conversely, does not create much distraction as someone will look at you, indeed, but the presentation/speech continues.
Bring the device to the bathroom (MUTED!!!!)
Works best for bathroom breaks and only if device (e.g. laptop) can be carried. One could even decide to shortly unmute when inquired. May not work for breaks such as a postman ringing the bell.