Conference Calls … They’re so 1995

June 24, 2014 10:23 by Rebecca Doepke
It’s Monday morning, time to lead your team’s weekly sales call. The agenda for the call is to give an update on sales, discuss what’s in the pipeline, and have the team share success stories. Everyone dials in and you’re ready to go. Sounds like a straight forward and simple group conversation, right?  Unfortunately, here is how this conference call typically goes down.Before you kick off the call and get to your agenda, you first need to find out who’s on the call. In other words, take attendance. This doesn’t exactly get the call started with collaborative enthusiasm and energy, not to mention burns another 5 minutes of everyone’s time. After you take attendance, hopefully everyone is still paying attention as you move on to share last week’s sales and year-to-date numbers. You’re not sure because no one has done much talking but you.Next, you open it up for success stories, and the real fun of managing communication on the call is about to begin. After a moment of silence, three people start talking at the same time. Then they all stop talking before saying simultaneously, “Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead.” Followed by, “No, you go ahead.” More silence takes place. Then the three people start talking at the same time … again. Not only do you have to call out who should talk first, you also have to keep track of who has already shared their story and who still needs to contribute.Finally, you have to deal with those that didn’t speak up amidst this chaos. Time to call on them one by one.By the time the call is over, an hour later, there is a sigh of relief. Everyone is glad the time waster is over so they can get some work done.So, what other options do we have? Why not a virtual meeting?Let’s try it again and see what that looks like.It’s Monday morning, time to lead your team’s weekly sales meeting. Everyone logs into your virtual meeting platform and connects to the meeting audio as directed. The agenda for the call is to give an update on sales, discuss what’s in the pipeline, and share success stories. No need to take attendance, everyone present is listed right there on your screen. You also know who has connected to the audio. You’re ready to get right down to business. Now you can kick off the virtual meeting with enthusiasm and energy!You open it up for success stories and managing communication is easy. You can pose a question asking who would like to share their success story by raising their hand. You can simply call on the folks that raised their hand and avoid several people talking at the same time. If you want to stop putting people on the spot and make sure that everyone is prepared to share, give this idea a try. In your meeting invitation, ask everyone to come prepared with a success story to share summarized in the form of a written headline. Instead of having everyone share their stories one at a time, you would prepare a whiteboard exercise asking everyone to post their headline on a whiteboard. Once all headlines are posted, the group could vote on which headline they would like to hear more about first.  Virtual meetings offer participants the opportunity to interact, engage, and collaborate in multiple ways versus only verbal conversation. Through the use of collaboration tools, everyone can interact with your content, visuals, slides, web links, and video. Turning on webcams might be an option so that participants can see each other as they share their success stories, something that is not possible on a conference call.There isn’t an option for smaller groups to work together on a conference call, but virtually you could use breakout rooms.  Here’s a thought:Best practices can be shared and extrapolated through the use of breakout rooms. Consider breaking the large group into smaller teams by placing them in breakout rooms to share on-the-job experiences. These smaller groups can use a whiteboard to take notes, which can later be shared with the larger group when everyone comes back together and downloaded as a takeaway from the session. Keep in mind, breakout rooms offer a comfort level to those who prefer smaller groups when asked to participate. Switching gears to the end of the meeting:On most conference calls, there’s usually some type of follow-up. Whether it is to share notes from the call, sending out a document or white paper that was promised, or an email reminder of action items assigned in the meeting. In a virtual meeting, notes can be taken in real time right in front of everyone, and everyone can leave with the notes through file sharing. How efficient is that?Whether it’s the weekly sales update, a discussion around best practices, or a project management meeting, conference calls can be challenging and oftentimes are not as productive and efficient as you would like them to be. So, why not consider going virtual?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Online Meetings | Sales | Virtual Meetings

Managing Two Simultaneous Audience Groups: In-Person and Remote Attendees

March 14, 2014 12:38 by Greg Owen-Boger
My team and I recently found ourselves in a situation we advise our clients to avoid. It occurs to me that if even WE can’t follow our own advice, how can we expect others to? So, instead of saying “don’t do it,” here’s some advice for dealing with it. The situation is this: You’re presenting to a group of individuals. You’re in the conference room and you have some slides to back you up. You also have a few people logging in remotely using a desktop sharing platform. It’s one thing to manage the group in the conference room. It’s an entirely different thing to manage the remote group as well. It’s nearly impossible to keep everyone focused and on the same page, which is why we don’t recommend doing it. But reality is what reality is. So, here are some ideas for managing both groups so that everyone remains equally engaged and actively participating. The main thing is to remain engaged so that you can monitor everything that’s going on. You have responsibility for both audience groups. Remind the in-person group to be thoughtfully inclusive of the people participating remotely. When side-bar conversations happen, they leave the remote participants feeling left out, as if they are merely observers rather than active participants. Ask remote attendees to put their phones on mute. Too much background noise coming from several phones at once becomes distracting to people in both groups. Encourage remote attendees to use the chat feature when they have questions or comments. Assign a spokesperson who can speak for the remote attendees. This person should monitor chat and be the voice and advocate of the remote attendees. Use directional language such as “in the upper right corner…,” or “moving on to slide 13….” These verbal cues will help everyone know where to focus. Check in with the remote attendees throughout by asking if they have anything they’d like to add to the conversation. At that point they can unmute themselves or use the chat feature. Managing both audience groups can be a real challenge, but by using these ideas, you should be able to do it without too much trouble.    

Tags: , , ,

Online Learning | Online Meetings | Turpin Communication