Looking for ways to engage remote meeting attendees? Conference call bingo., anyone?
In today’s business environment, it’s not uncommon to host or join meetings with remote workers or staff in other offices around the state, country, or world! Sometimes it’s the most practical way to get your message out to the masses. It’s just that talking at people is going to get less engagement and knowledge retention than communicating with them.
Below, we explore ways to deepen engagement with participants on virtual meetings or conference calls for workshops and seminars.
Why Is It So hard To Engage People On A Conference Call
Attending a call remotely is a common business practice. Depending on the nature of the call, the level of engagement and participation varies. If the purpose of the meeting is a workshop or seminar, chances are, you’re looking to build more than awareness from your participants, you’re looking to engage them in the subject matter.
Here are the challenges:
#1. Talking at the participants rather than with them
Often, we see this as a byproduct of an overall structural problem with the call wherein questions or feedback are limited to a single line on the agenda (the ole “be quiet until I say so” agenda format). Yes, sometimes you need to get a lot of information out to a massive audience, but with that comes missed opportunities to engage.
#2. One voice, one opinion, one topic
A limited variety in subject matters or moderators typically occurs when the topic is considerably narrow and the person developing the material is also leading the call. Going on mute usually solves the boredom of listening to someone drone on and on, but it doesn’t improve engagement or retention.
#3. Free-form engagement causes groupthink
In smaller group calls, it is common to hear the moderator ask broad-sweeping questions like “let us know if you have any questions” or “is this making sense”. This is so impersonal – ugh – and more likely a lack of preparedness or a nervous tick from the speaker. As a result, this more often leads to one person seemingly speaking on behalf of the group, who remains completely silent. Ask a general question, get a general response.
Taking Action With Remote Meeting Attendee
Practically speaking, depending on the type of call you host, there are numerous ways to be intentional and genuine in the way you engage remote meeting attendees.
Here are some recommended actions to get started:
Prompts / Tips for Action
|Preparation||Highlight areas in the agenda where you will change / rotate moderators, colicit pointed feedback, and vary the content||Do: solicit participation in advance; highlight any topical areas to call upon someone to weigh in; send materials in advance to participants with a reason to review (if relevant)
Don’t: plan to call upon someone without advance notice and structure (i.e. ask a specific question)
|During the Meeting||Change moderators||Do: call upon people to present, as available, and previously align to make sure you’re sharing the same message
Don’t: engage too many competing points of view unless the conversation merits this type of presentation
|Take a poll||Do: periodically pause for a poll to gauge feedback (note: this can be embedded in the presentation)
Don’t: ask yes/no questions or make statements telling attendees to weigh in
|Vary content||Do: have a variety of ways to present your content to appeal to the attendees (slide designs: graphs, bullets, no bullets, etc; type of discussion: interactive, presentation of info, etc), and have a list of questions prepared in advance to ask.
Don’t: assume that everyone is actively listening, taking notes and is 100% focused on your presentation
|Post Meeting||Solicit feedback||Do: solicit personalized feedback wherever possible; you can lean on managers or team leaders to solicit personal feedback, too. If this is a practical challenge for you, ask for participants to confidentially take a poll if 1:1 so they can share what they’ve learned Just keep in mind, poll have a use case (see above for the in-call suggestion), though over usage can come across as impersonal and stale.
Don’t: ask subjective questions about your own personal performance (less about you, more about them)
Why have a call if no one’s listening or actively engaging? It’s time to develop new ways to engage your remote meeting attendees and get more out of what you give. From prep to post-call engagement, you have so many opportunities to let your meeting attendees know that they have a voice.
When you’re ready to take the next step to how you can get more engagement from your staff on conference calls and remote meetings or daily communication, give us a call. We love fostering the development of remote and offsite workers.
If all else fails, there’s always conference call bingo. Bueller? Bueller?
For Further Reading: