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How to deal with difficult conference call situations

Posted by Eureka Editor

Last updated on June 25, 2015

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There are great ways to deal with tricky situations in a conference call.

With the trend of remote working on the rise, more teams are collaborating via conference calls. While this offers many benefits to both parties, the attendees may sometimes find themselves in tricky situations.

Whether it is the feeling of being ignored, the need to leave a meeting urgently, or disruptive noise, all contribute towards dissatisfaction and ultimately deteriorate the effectiveness of the conference call.

As an attendee who wants to stay relevant in a web conference, here are some ways of dealing with two common scenarios in conference calls:

1. Talking over the other person

Irrespective of the nature of the meeting, participants often end up talking over each other. This is confusing enough in a face-to-face catch up, let alone in a conference call. If you find yourself addressing the group at the same time as another attendee, stop and let the other person complete. 

However, doing it tactfully is another story altogether. Choose your words carefully and you are on your way to conference call success.

"I have one thing to add, but go ahead."

Mike Pacchione is a facilitator at the world-renowned training solution provider Duarte. He says doing it the right way may earn you air time as well as the respect of your colleagues, according to a October 21, 2014 Duarte blog post.

So the next time you find your words getting muddled up with someone else, perhaps you could choose to retreat with the following words, suggests Mr Pacchione : "I have one thing to add, but go ahead".

2. Know when to interrupt

Usually it is considered rude to stop someone mid-sentence; however, there are times when it becomes necessary to interrupt to salvage the meeting. Fortunately, most conference calls have a chair and they can come to the rescue, but if that is not the case you may want to step in. If you find yourself getting disengaged because a participant is digressing from the subject, then perhaps you do not need to fight the urge to interrupt them.

As with the previous point, minding your etiquette should remain a priority.

Conference calls can be tricky.Conference calls can be tricky.

Say a colleague is passionately discussing an issue that has nothing to do with a looming deadline - you could take various approaches to deal with this.

You could ask to interrupt and bring them back on track by saying something like, "If I may interrupt, can we go back to the issue you raised regarding the budget?"

Another approach that could work is by showing disagreement - you could state your concern: "I am not sure that is valid for the purposes of this discussion, shall we look at the reports instead?".

Conference calls are a great way for the organisation to engage remote workers; however, attendees too need to make sure that they assert themselves so they can make the most of the virtual meeting. 

Topics: Web Conferencing, Teleconferencing

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