18 actions to optimise your teleconferences

Doing a virtual presentation can feel like talking to air.  Here’s a situation you may recognise….

The Situation: most of the participants will not be in the room and some won’t see you. All, except two are in different continents.

The Challenge: to include everyone, ensure they maintain their attention and, no matter which medium they are using, they are involved with the whole conversation.

The solution: Do what so many others do: talk at the ones you can see and ignore the ones you can’t.

Result: Total waste of money and time.

OR use a few tips from a treasure chest of them, that I use in workshops on Knock Out Presentations and Pitches.

In preparation of the call:

1.  Ensure everyone has a list of who is who including names, roles and locations and contact information so that people can reach each other for further information after the call, if they need to.

2.  Decide who’s going to do what: facilitate, who will lead each section

3.  Have the participants meet up 30 minutes before the scheduled time to test the IT. In each room, where there’s a video conference, have one person responsible for making the IT work and a back up plan if it doesn’t.

4.  Consider participant availability just as you would for any other meeting.

5.  Take into account time zones when scheduling – the Malaysians may be less participative when you speak to them from London at 2:00pm GMT as they’re beating for the door – it’s 7pm but the New Yorkers have had they’re coffee and they’re all go. This will mean you’ll probably need to stimulate more participation from your eastern callers and just when you’re on your post-lunch slump, you’ll need to keep the energy up for those to the West of you.

6.  Communicate local time or how to calculate local time when sending meeting announcement.

7. Distribute supporting documents/files well before the call start.

8. Inform participants if they have to have a file or website open on their computer desktop.

9. Record the call. For those who can’t make the meeting simply record the call and share the audio file.

During the call: Keep it personal (Beyonce’s already said it…’Say ma name, say ma name…)

10.  Review and, if needed, adjust agenda.

11. Find out if there are any individual time constraints (“I have to leave early”) and adjust accordingly. This is particularly important if you need the input or participation of the person leaving early to achieve the goals of the call.

12. Have a round of greetings: this way you’ll start to familiarise yourself with whose name belongs to which voice.

13. If someone’s joining the call later, the earlier arrivals need to introduce themselves to this latter one. If that was you joining later you’d want to know who you’re talking to.

14. ‘Say my name, say my name’, as the song goes…actually, say your own name before you speak. One of the reasons why your audience may go silent when you ask their thoughts on what you’ve just said, is that they’re not sure who the voice belongs to and they don’t want to wrong foot themselves. The best way to achieve this habit in a teleconference is just to announce it as ‘How about if were to say our names before we speak each time, just to distinguish the speaker?’ Leaving it to tacit agreement in some groups is like trying to travel to the moon on a scooter: it just won’t happen.

15. Help less engaged people become more involved in the call e.g. use phrases like:

a) How do you see this, xxxx?

b) What’s your experience of this, xxxx?

c) Does this sound like what you’re looking for, xxxx?

d) Would you like to add anything to this, xxxx?

16. Be enthusiastic and use a tone appropriate to the group. The first impression is important.

17. Vary voice tone – avoid monotone presentation.

After the Call: Have a plan that leads to action (not another meeting)

18. For Action steps, remember to state who does what by when.

With virtual calls so much the norm in companies these days, using the format above will mean that you have more productive use of time, better decision making and more possibility to use other virtual interactive tools effectively as your participants will already feel more involved in the process.

What irritates you in virtual conferencing?  Let us know below…



Share This: