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The Rise of the Teleconference – We’re Not Talking Martini Chic

05-24-2012

How Don Draper Did Business

Any regular viewer of the show Mad Men enjoys a unique glimpse into how people used to conduct business. The partners of the fictional advertising agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Price, offer us a romanticized view of advertising in 1960s Manhattan. And while the show highlights the sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism of the time – you also see some striking differences from the business world most of us know.

Watch Don Draper, Roger Sterling, and Pete Campbell closely, and you realize they do much of their work face-to-face. They meet clients in the office. They meet clients over dinner. They meet clients over drinks.

And how do they use the phone? They rarely do. Their support staff uses it to set up these in-person meetings.

You May Now Join the Conference Call

Though not nearly as glamorous as Don Draper’s world, most professionals today meet clients remotely – typically by phone. As the squeeze on our time continues and the cost of business travel goes up, the teleconference continues to replace the face-to-face meeting. But a lot gets lost in the process.

We lose important non-verbal cues in a telephone conversation: gone are facial expressions, gestures, and general body language. Worse yet, the lack of face-to-face contact makes these calls boring. In fact, if “death by PowerPoint” became a catch phrase for the 2000s, then “death by teleconference” may do the same in the 2010s.

In fact, so many clients approached us about their struggles with meetings over the phone that we developed a program to address this issue. And if you use a web conferencing solution, you still may not see the person speaking if the screen shows the slides and not the person discussing them. Even when the camera focuses on the speaker during a webcast, you see a two-dimensional image which eliminates an important element of human relationships.

But with the advantages of speed, cost, and ease, the teleconference represents a permanent part of the business landscape. So how do you make sure your conference calls and other virtual meetings have the impact you want?

Bring More Energy When You Meet Remotely

Many teleconferences lack sizzle and you lose the opportunity to genuinely connect as a result. When you speak, you simply must work a lot harder. And without live feedback, you may struggle to maintain the energy you need or you may not know how your message lands with your audience.

So what can you do? Use these tips to make your calls more engaging:

Tip Benefit
Sit up in your chair Convey and maintain energy
Talk slowly Allow others to process key points
Vary the pitch of your voice Be interesting to listen to
Use people’s names Personalize your conversation
Ask questions Offer people a way to participate
Speak with enthusiasm Display your passion
Smile Project warmth

 

One last, but essential, skill…focus your attention on one object to allow yourself to stay in the moment. Your thoughts can easily drift when you look out the window or glance at an incoming email. When you multi-task, even if just for a moment, you are not at your best. But if you stay focused on that object, you can deliver a crisp, clear message.

And you might even become the Don Draper of your world.

Best regards,

Sean Romanoff - Exec|Comm consultant

Exec|Comm
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Exec|Comm developed "Meeting in a Wired World" to build skills to lead or participate in virtual meetings. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

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