Fellow AMC principal Jonathan Strauss posted the link to a routine by the YouTube comedy team Tripp and Tyler http://mashable.com/2014/01/23/conference-call-in-real-life/ highlighting all that can, and too often does, go wrong with teleconference meetings. But teleconference/web-conference meetings don't have to be this way. I can think of at least 5 basic practices that can avoid the problems highlighted in the video.
1. Have an agenda and distribute it prior to the meeting.
This seems basic, but it was fairly clear on the video skit that not everyone was on the same page for the meeting. It doesn't matter how a meeting is being conducted. It will benefit from some structure. Beginning the meeting by stating desired outcomes is also a good way to get everyone aligned with the purpose and activities for the call. The person leading the meeting doesn't have to be dictatorial about the meeting's purpose of the agenda, but s/he should take responsibility to making the most of attendee's time on the call.
2. There should be no surprise guests on a virtual call.
It is often the case with working groups widely distributed that some members of the team have not met everyone on a conference meeting. The leader should take steps prior to conference calls, or build time into conference calls for all the members to know a little something about the other team members. This quickly becomes unnecessary as a working team will soon know everyone participating in ongoing calls.
3. A little conference etiquette goes a long ways.
Show up on time! If you can't, announce yourself at a convenient break in the discussion; simply apologize for being late. Telling the story as to why you're late will mostly NOT be of interest to those who made it on time.
4. Periodically poll for attendees.
If you're the leader, periodically poll to see if someone has joined after attendance was taken. Be welcoming, don't even imply that being late reflects poorly on them.
5. Do an Internet search for "teleconference etiquette" and find even more "best practice tips".
If your teleconference and web-conference meetings resemble the Tripp and Tyler skit, you've only yourself to blame.