Ensuring Total Team Involvement
As stated above, do not allow meetings to be dominated by a few stronger characters. Conference calls with a number of nationalities in attendance, have an unhappy habit of becoming dominated by good English speakers.
Just because somebody speaks fluent English doesn’t mean that their ideas are better or their contribution more valuable than less able English speakers.
It is a good idea for the conference call leader to keep an ongoing ‘participation log’ during virtual meetings – this gives a very clear visual representation of how participative each team member is being.
The conference call leader needs to encourage all delegates to participate by following these steps:
- Always use specific names when asking for comments or contributions – open questions with no names attached lead to silences or everybody speaking at the same time
- Start by asking for contributions from non-native speakers in multi-language conference calls
- Do not allow people to interrupt the weaker language users – make sure they have the time and space to say what they need to say
- Ensure that all delegates have actively participated at an early stage of the meeting to make them feel fully included and committed
- Positively support the contributions made by those team members who are more reticent or weaker English speakers
- Try not to directly disagree with people as this could discourage further participation
- ‘Translate’ anything which is said in a way that could be misunderstood – say it again in a clearer manner
As you can see, leading a conference call is a very ‘active’ role and one which needs real concentration and commitment. The more you commit to doing all of the above, the more effective your conference calls will be. The less you do all of the above, the less effective your conference calls will be.