4 E. Guidelines for effective teleconferences
“Always confirm meanings in your communications. Different cultural assumptions as to the
meaning of a word, phrase, symbol, picture or agreement can cause confusion… When approaching a
topic, or after consensus has been agreed upon a subject, always confirm that the general meaning has
been agreed upon and understood. Where potential problems may exist as to interpretation, always
simplify meanings. If the meeting will deal with complex language or concepts, consider forming a
consensus on the meaning all participants will be comfortable with, then circulating them in advance of
the meeting for review.”
- Neil Payne, Managing Director, Kwintessential, UK
When working on projects to deliver more value, another key communications method
is through teleconferences, often involving participants in remote locations, from a few countries.
Running an effective teleconference across borders is a communications skill that can be very
important in coordinating outside lawyers on a major global transaction or to manage an ACC Value
“[Others on the teleconference] have no access to your nonverbal cues. They will lose place, lose
focus and lose attention to the meeting. Virtually, you won’t notice if they don’t get you; they won’t tell
you. So you have to be clearer—more explicit—the first time.”
- Daniel Mittleman, associate professor at the DePaul University School of Computer
Science, Telecommunications and Information Systems,
Meetings are hard enough to run when the participants are all in the same room. But any
meeting you call today probably has at least one person attending who works in a remote location.
You may be skilled at orchestrating an in-person meeting, but running an effective teleconference
requires new skills.
Most of what you know as a manager remains relevant on a teleconference:
•;You still need to start the meeting on time, define the meeting objectives, invite the right
people, keep to a schedule, etc. If you have weak in-person meeting skills, teleconferences
will exaggerate the weakness.
•;Ask questions often to get confirmation that attendees are listening. You will have greater
participation if you involve others from the start of the call. You can set this up in advance
by appointing a few individuals to provide updates, and giving everyone on the call a task.
•;It helps to send succinct information in advance of any meeting, and it can be critical for
effective teleconferences. Ask people to have their materials available, and when reviewing,
describe where you are on a particular page.
•;Prepare ahead. Send out materials to review well in advance and provide clear direction on
reviewing the items.
•;Include an agenda (short and focused) and ground rules for each meeting, such as when to
use the mute button, the keys this conference service uses to place the call on hold and so on.