Leading a meeting is rarely easy. You’ve got to manage time, an agenda, and – most importantly – a diverse group of people. Now, what about if the meeting happens by phone, with each person or small group calling in from a different location? Nobody can see each other, and there may be a variety of distractions that you, as the leader, can’t shut out simply by closing the door. Sure, teleconferencing is a marvel of modern technology, but it can be challenging.
With modern technology, you don’t have to be in the same room to have a meeting with other people. Teleconferencing tools allow us to connect by phone, VOIP, or video from across the country, or around the world. You can even join a meeting from home, your car or on plane at 30,000 feet in the air. Sure, it’s amazing, but teleconferencing brings special challenges, and we have to be mindful of things that real-life meetings don’t require.
This is the third in our Business English Pod series on handling a crisis. In the first part of a crisis, there may be a lot of confusion and activity. But if you make it through that part okay, what comes next?
At a certain point after the critical phase, people will come together to re-evaluate the situation. Team work is important. People need to be working together to handle the crisis. If they don’t, if they disagree and try to go in different directions, it won’t be good for the company. Unity is absolutely essential. It takes good leadership to establish that unity early on, but it takes good team work to maintain it.
In our last lesson, we heard Mike the production engineer talking with the VP of Communications in Singapore, Monika. She was getting some information from Mike about an accident and creating a communication plan. That was still the critical phase of the crisis.
In this episode, we’ll hear a teleconference meeting after that critical phase. It’s time to think about what has happened and re-evaluate the situation. We’ll hear Mike and Monika, as well as Frank the American boss, Sandy the plant manager, and a lawyer named Simone. Let’s listen as they try to gain perspective on the crisis and figure out how well they’ve handled the situation so far.
1. Why does Mike say “sorry” to Simone? 2. What does Monika want to focus on in the discussion? 3. What does Sandy think about Simone’s concerns?
This is the first in a series of Business English lessons on handling a crisis.
Imagine this: it’s four o’clock in the morning and you’re sound asleep. The phone rings. It’s one of your managers. There’s been a terrible accident! What do you do? What do you say?
At some point in your career, you will have to deal with a major crisis. It could be a labor strike or an environmental disaster. And there are minor crises, like missing an important delivery or running out of paper, that can happen every day. These events can certainly do damage, but how much? That depends on how you deal with them.
Good crisis management is the key. Your success and reputation depend on it. So in this lesson, we’ll look at what happens when a crisis breaks, or begins. This is all about “Taking Control in a Crisis.” We’ll cover some useful techniques and language to deal effectively with that early morning phone call about an accident.
We’ll hear Sandy and Mike, who work at a factory in China that has just had an accident. Sandy is the plant manager, while Mike is the lead production engineer. A pipe has burst, releasing gas and injuring two workers. Now Sandy and Mike are calling their boss, Frank Menzies, in the U.S. Let’s listen as Sandy and Mike deliver the bad news and Frank takes control of the crisis.
1. Why isn’t Mike on the call at the beginning? 2. What information about the incident does Frank want to know? 3. What does Frank instruct Mike to do at the end?
Teleconferences allow people from different locations to have a meeting over the telephone. While convenient, teleconferences do have some issues to keep in mind, such as keeping track of who’s talking. Sometimes two people talk at the same time or talk too quickly. Because participants can’t see each other, it’s helpful to use “signposts” or short statements that prepare others for what’s about to be said. Other issues such as laying out an agenda and managing the time also come into play.
In the last episode, we heard a conversation between Craig and Elsa, two employees at StarCom, an electronics manufacturer. Craig has his first teleconference coming up and Elsa gave him an informal tutorial, teaching him about the equipment and some of the protocols for a teleconference.
Today, Craig is participating in the teleconference. The host of the teleconference is Tony, a manager in Chicago. Also participating are Diana, a colleague in London, and JP, who works in Marketing at the Dallas location. They’re discussing the upcoming holiday season, new product lines, and advertising.
1) How does JP help Craig with the agenda? 2) According to Diana, why were the printer test results disappointing? 3) Why doesn’t Diana think the problem will be resolved quickly?