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职场英语电话会议

时间:2013-10-10
  
职场英语电话会议
Mention conference calls and you will soon discover the corporate world is sharply polarised.
  On the one hand are those who sing their praises as a productivity- boosting business tool that helps cut travel costs at a time when budgets are tight.
  Then there are those who absolutely hate them, believing them to be unwieldy and a poor substitute for a meeting.
  But, love them or loathe them, they are an unavoidable fixture in business life.  “I couldn’t do my job without them,” says Tony Reeves, European partner at Clifford Chance, based in Brussels. “My clients are all over the world, in different time zones. They’re the only way of getting people together.” However, he adds, there are two golden rules: “The first is that you have to have a disciplined chair with an agenda and the second is that you can’t have mobile phones without a mute function.”
  Mr Reeves says without an agenda, a conference call can quickly become rudderless or hijacked. He also cautions that the agenda should be short, as participants’ attention drifts more quickly when they are on the phone and they forget where to come in on the conversation.
  The reason mobiles need to be muted is simply that they are prone to pick up and amplify background noise, which can disrupt the virtual meeting when others are talking and greatly reduce its efficiency.
  Jane Farrell, chief executive of the consultancy Equality Works, takes a similar view: “The rules that are important in conference calls are those which are important in meeting.” Like Mr Reeves, she’s a strong believer in a good chair. “You want someone who is going to direct the meeting, to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to speak. They will also direct the call – for instance, saying, ‘We need a bit more detail’ when someone has been unclear.”
  Cary Cooper, professor of business psychology at Lancaster University School of management, says a good chair will also be adept at conflict resolution. “In conference calls, conflict can be much more difficult to defuse. In a meeting, if things get heated people will normally take a break.” Not being physically there, he explains, tends to make people less inhibited: “If you want to be obstinate and block things, or argue and behave badly, it’s far easier to do.”