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During the meeting itself, you get to play amateur psychologist to attribute motives to others. "By his expensive suit and golf tan, Charles must believe that whatever the group decides, he gets the final veto." "Sylvia looks as though she wants everyone to understand she's in charge, but that stick pin is disastrous." "Leonard is clearly the scapegoat on the team: just look at that posture."
You're right: meetings are more fabulous than conference calls. But you can still get into plenty of mischief on a conference call. In fact, one of my favorite Superladies back East actually hung up on the Vice President of the United States during a conference call - to give birth to twins. But even on a more mundane call, if you're part of a team, you can play Meeting Bingo, a game in which everyone tries to work in special phrases of MBA jargon or wildcard words such as "core competencies," "disintermediation," or "Howard Stern."
Conference calls provide great opportunities for power tactics and side conversations, since you can use instant messaging software or even email in place of notes under the table. If the call gets dull I sometimes chat with my stylist or write quick little to-do lists for my People. But be careful: someone might ask you a direct question.
The invisibility of the people on a conference call has its advantages as well. The burning question on everyone's mind is, "What are you wearing?" As a self-employed person, you know that "business casual" takes on new meaning when you're commuting from your boudoir.
If you're taking the call in a car, try to stay within an area with good coverage. But put something on before you go out.
Conference call tips
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