Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Vol 10, No 1 (2013)

Participation across distance: Claiming the floor in multiple-location video meetings

Kristin Halvorsen
Issued Date: 18 Oct 2016


Team decision-making across geographical distance is increasingly common in the global workplace, often taking place via multiple location videoconference. Participation in these meetings is challenging, as claiming the floor requires coordination with numerous other participants and occurs in the absence of nonverbal information such as direct gaze. The present study examines how participants in a daily morning meeting in the offshore oil and gas industry claim the floor and how these turns at talk contribute to the daily adjustment of operational decisions. A discourse analytic approach emphasizing the relevance of the activity type (Levinson 1979) is taken. A systematic mapping of the encounter shows a highly structured and routinized activity type. Micro-analysis of interaction shows the meeting’s collaborative nature, evidenced in participants claiming the floor without having been assigned speaking turn and thematically orientating to a shared communicative project. By offering local information and operational details that have consequences for other participants, the speakers contribute to the continuous adjustment of inter-related decisions. The study contributes to our understanding of team decision-making in an empirical site rarely studied, with relevance for professional practice. The connection between activity type structure and the participants’ ability to claim the floor might encourage practitioners to reflect on the availability of the floor in existing activity types.

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DOI: 10.1558/japl.25758


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