In a conference call, the words you use and how you use them affect both how you and your message are perceived. Basically, people take one of two approaches: the I-centered in which you exert control over the conversation from the start or the Group-centered which encourages open participation from the entire group. The approach you use depends on your goal.
Let’s take a look at some of the statements you might use in each approach:
- My experience indicates that the plan is workable/impractical.
- I agree/disagree with that idea.
- I would argue that …
- I’m in favor of/opposed to …
- I’d like to review the (budget, timeline, analysis, etc.).
- I have several thoughts on how we can solve this problem.
- Is there more to this issue?
- Interesting … go on.
hat else do we need to discuss?
- What do you recommend?
- I wonder if we should consider the (budget, timeline, analysis, etc.).
- Say nothing. Silence often elicits expansion on a statement or provides a void that encourages another person to speak.
Your choice of approach will depend on the purpose of the teleconference and your goals. You may find it necessary or beneficial to use different approaches at different points in the conference. If you are leading the teleconference, you might begin with an I-centered statement that defines the objective and parameters of the call. You might then switch to group-centered statements to elicit ideas and discussion. Ending the call with I-centered statements that specify any results, conclusions or work assignments allows you to reestablish control of the proceedings. Be aware of and use the power of language to ensure that your teleconference achieves your desired goals.