We’ve all done it: finished our emails while the CEO is delivering his ‘all-hands’ call or texted colleagues and groaned about how boring this is. Conference calls, are seen as an easy, low cost way to ‘communicate’ with large numbers of people; yet the truth is, they are more likely to become a breeding ground for cynicism or disengagement, if done badly.
Investing in global calls can be enormously rewarding – but there are particular techniques to being successful. I love the sense of reaching out across the world; remembering colleagues I worked with, or clients I’ve worked for and the places I’ve visited as a result.
Whether it’s one to one or one to many, you get what you give on telephone calls. They take an investment in energy – just like any other major presentation.
Here’s my top ten tips and some suggested reading, for getting the most from conference calls.
1. Make it Visual; Make it Personal:
- Before the meeting, circulate pictures of team members next to their agenda items, job titles/departments, so everyone knows what each other looks like when they come online
- Meet your audience in person whenever possible – and connect with them on a personal level – maintaining that connection in calls.
- Prepare key messages; make them memorable
- Edit ruthlessly: cut the waffle and junk the jargon
- rehearse your messages; get feedback – especially on your timekeeping
3. Focus on your online presence
- What’s the essential you?
- Find a metaphor or analogy for the ‘real you’)
- Be that person on the calls
4 Invest time engaging with people on a personal level
- At the beginning of the call when people are joining – make one or two feel welcome, while the others are arriving
- At the end of the calls invite one or two people to tell you one thing they’re taking away from the meeting
5. Invite people to be focused and engaged
- You are looking for commitment to the meeting
- Not doing other emails, taking calls on mobiles, etc., etc.,
- Everyone needs to step up to the responsibility of making the meeting successful
6. Who are you being as the meeting leader or keynote speaker?
- What leadership strength are you bringing to the calls?
- What engages you about this topic?
- If you’re not engaged, chances are the audience aren’t either!
7. Not everyone’s first language is the same as yours
- People may speak the same language, in theory, but culture and different interpretations may blur your messages
- Slow down your speech
- Pronounce each word more distinctly
8. Check for understanding
- Invite feedback and engage people at the same time; some questions to ask might be:
- “Am I making sense?”
- “Does anyone have a different perspective?”
- “Does this make sense in your country/territory/division/department?”
- “Does anyone want to comment on that?”
- “What questions might you have?
9. Adapt to your audience’s Learning & Communications styles
- We’re all different but there are some common themes – some of us are more ‘auditory’, others more tactile, some people make sense by writing things down
- Most of us are visual – so use commonly-understood images to paint a ‘word picture’
- Get your audience to write specific points down
- Ask someone to feed back what they’ve just heard
- Use variety to engage everyone
10. Combine the rational with the emotional
- Use rational/logical (information) and emotional engagement – in one message; it engages both sides of the brain and engages your whole audience
Want to comment on this article? Please do leave your own ideas & suggestions in the comments field.
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