|Dear Meeting Guru,
"For teleconference/conference calls:
||What is the proper protocol
for announcing (or not announcing) someone who is late to join
a conference call they are expected to attend? (You can hear
late-comers "clicking in" to a call)
||How do you handle a teleconference
call where someone joins unannounced or unexpectedly and just
listens ("eavesdropping"). For example, a senior level
person walks in on a conference call and listens...those in
the room are aware of the "guest", but those from
outside are unaware."
Latecomers are the bane of every meeting. The best way to deal with them is
to try and prevent the problem before it happens. When you schedule your next
teleconference, make sure participants know the date, time and expected duration
of the meeting. At this point, explain that there is a set agenda so everyone
is expected to arrive on time.
At the beginning of the call, take a quick roll call. This lets everyone know
exactly who's in the room. If some of the meeting participants haven't met previously,
take some time to let each participant introduce himself and explain why heís
attending the meeting.
If someone does arrive late, donít immediately interrupt the call (it only
rewards the late comer). Instead, wait for a suitable break in the conversation
and say "Sorry for the interruption, but it appears we have a newcomer.
Please introduce yourself briefly and then we can return to our discussion."
If someone joins the call without the benefit of an identifying "click,"
itís still best to introduce the newcomer. Say something simple like, "Sorry
for the interruption, but it appears that Jim Smith, VP of sales, has just joined
us. Now, where were we?" This allows everyone on the call to know whoís
listening, but doesnít interrupt the flow of the meeting with formal introductions
Remember, if you want to conduct an effective teleconference, you need to structure
your meeting a little differently. Make sure each participant identifies themselves
before they speak. And ensure that everyone knows exactly whoís participating
in the call and what their role in the organization is. If certain individuals
are dominating the call, you might want to implement a roll call system for
the discussion. If someone has been particularly quiet, interject with "Tom,
how do you deal with this situation in the Atlanta office?"
Teleconferencing can take some
practice to be effective, but in the long run it will save your organization
a tremendous amount of time and money. It sounds like your organization has
tolerated bad teleconferencing etiquette in the past. If this is the case, donít
be afraid to implement a change. As the wise philosopher Confucius once said,
"Don't bother explaining that which has already been done; don't bother
criticizing that which is already gone; don't bother blaming that which is already
past." In other words, forget about past policies and procedures and start
Until next time
may good meeting karma always be with you.