Do conference calls really work for 3 hours meetings with groups of 30?

One issue which regularly came up during the Saturday morning conference consultation session on the Liberal Democrat policy process was the London-centric bias of many policy meetings. As is often the case, several people said the answer is better use of conference calls – phone, Skype and so on.

It sounds sensible, but the enthusiasm for conference calling does not sweep me away immediately. That is because my own experience of conference calls both in and outside¬†work is that once you get up more than 10 people and more than an hour, it’s extremely hard to make such conference calls successful and truly engaging – and they often fail on this score.

Party policy discussion meetings, however, often have over 20 people in the room (and with conference call access that would easily go up to 30) and typically last for three hours or more.

Reducing the size of such groups would rather run counter to the idea of involving more people, whilst keeping them shorter would make for even more diary clashing nightmares if instead there were more, shorter meetings.

Hence my question: can conference calls really work well in such an environment? Over to you…

UPDATE: some good reactions from Twitter are particularly worth highlighting.

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