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February 10, 2014

Only One Talk at a Time, Please

Onsite, offshore and global teams share status updates, conduct weekly and regular meetings by phone or conference call. These calls can be attended in various ways. In some cases, the entire team sits in one room and calls in. In many more cases, however, people tend to call in from different places. Some may call from different seats/desks within the same office, from different rooms within the same office, from different offices in the same complex, and from different offices on the same continent.

Coordinating these meetings can be a headache as many people will join in. Often times, more than one person may tend to talk at a time. How can we handle or avoid more than one person speaking at a time on a conference call? 
Helping make conference calls more productive
Helping make conference
calls more productive
  • Assign a meeting moderator to handle conflicts in discussion
  • Have a clear agenda with a person assigned to each talking point
  • Participants in the meeting must direct their questions to a particular person by name (again all we have to connect with others is our voice, we can't make eye contact with them, so using the name is the best bet)
  • When there is no option but to interrupt, we should take care to use the right phrases to politely interrupt and avoid the rude ones. More on this here.

(These answers assume that the equipment is working flawlessly!)

There will be other ideas that come to mind as we brainstorm this longer. The key here is that the meeting must be well planned and organized. Communication between as many team members on one side of the call must take place in advance. This does take preparation time for the team calling in, but will save time in actually holding the meeting and also will help in reducing these kinds of interruptions.

Jennifer Kumar, author of this post helps Indian teams communicate more effectively with US counterparts by consulting with them, finding the gaps, and implementing simple processes to help improve communication within their team and between onsite and client teams. Contact her anytime to learn more by clicking here.

Related Posts: 
Polite Ways to Interrupt  
Phrases to use in Group Discussions (Group Meetings)  
Meeting Etiquette (video tutorial) 

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.