The role of the meeting leader

One of the key responsibilities of the conference call leader is to ensure that meetings are chaired effectively and efficiently. If your conference calls are ineffective, it is your fault. Don’t try to blame the participants – it is your fault.

The conference call leader needs to ensure that the following happens at all times and in all meetings:

  • Meetings must not be dominated by a few strong characters
  • In international conference calls, events must not be dominated by native speakers of English or those non-native speakers of English who are most fluent
  • Everybody must be aware of who is speaking at all times – insist on the use of names throughout the conference call
  • Do not allow the meeting to go off-agenda unless there is a very, very compelling reason
  • Summarize often and effectively – only the conference call leader should do the summarizing otherwise the leader loses control
  • Ask questions to check for understanding and to ‘translate’ into simpler, clearer English when things are expressed in a complex or confusing way
  • Make sure effective notes are being taken – it is probably better for a native speaker to do this in any international conference call as it is easier in your own language
  • Do not allow pointless arguments to dominate the meeting – break in to any unhelpful disagreements that occur between participants and move the conference call on. (These contentious issues can be returned to later using a different forum.)
  • Remember that you are the conference call leader, not a dictator – do not commit yourself too early to any one opinion. Encourage others to state their views
  • Keep a record of delegate participation and actively encourage participation from those people who do not appear to be fully engaged
  • Never allow yourself to be seen to be favoring one team member over another – this could alienate the whole team
  • Actively support helpful ideas that come from team members and recognize their valuable contribution

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