Yesterday, TheRightScoop.com posted a Cochran campaign audio conference, providing an opportunity for the press to listen to their views of how the runoff went as well as (allegedly) allow for questions.
In my professional IT conferencing experience and opinion, both sides — the Cochran and McDaniel campaign representatives/surrogates — handled the call exceptionally incorrectly and, therefore, improperly, for the following reasons:
- If you’re going to host a call whereby you are going to be the primary presenter, I would recommend a medium such as GoToMeeting or similar service. This way, any folks coming onto the call can have their lines muted either automatically or much more easily. I’ve been on enough calls for my Representative to know that there are systems out there that never even allow a direct communication between caller and presenter. This is very possible to do.
- If you are the agitator (which you have every right to be one), at least be a proper agitator. Await your turn; don’t make the moderator/presenter have to repeat numerous times that you need to wait until their prepared remarks are done and then present your question(s). Interrupting anyone is not just improper, it’s rude and makes the situation so defensive to the presenter that you make yourself seem incapable of even presenting your view. Instead, await your turn (assuming the presenter is confident/poised enough to handle your question) and the present your question or issue as succinctly and specifically as possible.
- If you are on a medium that disallows a reasonably immediate ability to mute callers’ lines, then don’t you lose your cool. After all, this meeting is about you or what you represent, not other people. Attempt to move the call in the direction you wish it to go, without browbeating others on the line. After all, you are representing yourself and/or your brand.
So, I would have begun the way the presenter did (in asking for questions to wait) and then if the person persisted on continuing, I would have first allowed them to ask their question a second time (apparently they didn’t either hear or understand what I was originally asking them). Then, I would have asked the person to identify themselves (thereby recognizing them as a person) and would have asked them directly, and by name, if they would hold off their questions. If this tactic didn’t work for the caller, then I would have, instead, either muted the caller or hung up on them, but I would continue on with the call.
Now, I happen to have a pretty strong personality. So, if I felt as if the call was important enough, then under the guise that a bully is only as powerful as the power you give them, I would call out the caller by name and state that I will be continuing on with the call and if so-and-so wishes to continue interrupting, I will take a pause and request that all other callers remain silent until we got through the call.
Of course, there are others with equally strong personalities out there, and the above simply won’t work, in which case, it’s time to drop the medium and move to another medium for the balance of the presentation.
Don’t just be a good citizen organizer/agitator/leader for what you believe to be true, be a great citizen by respecting other people. When you do that, your opinion — no matter how crazy — will be taken more seriously, even if the other side disagrees with you. I’ve proven this with my blog over the years, and I’ve proven it professionally as well. Everyone wants to be respected, and sometimes it’s up to you to be the respectful one.