Featured Article from Conferencing

Five Ways to Ensure Engagement During Your Next Conference Call

March 17, 2015

Trying to get everyone to participate during a conference call can be tricky. Often times there are individuals who never speak up and you almost have to prod them to say anything, even when they have something helpful to add to the conversation. In order to correct this, you need to utilize the five methods below to ensure engagement during your next conference call.

In doing so, you will bring everyone into the conversation. This not only gives everyone a chance to speak because they feel comfortable with it, but it ensures that they will be able to contribute their ideas as well.

1. Rotate Facilitation Duties

Normally, it is the project manager who heads the facilitation of each meeting, or at the very least, the head of the branch office. However, it is possible to switch this up a bit and have other people facilitate the conference call. This way, someone else is in charge of speaking on each different call. This can help prevent one person from dominating the calls. By rotating the responsibility of this task, all of the team members are going to have a chance to speak. This also helps introduce the company to other members of a team, which in turn can really bring about some fantastic ideas that might not have been presented if the team leader spoke each and every time. Plus, it also helps the other team members feel important in their role with the company.

2. Brain Teaser to Warm Up

One of the main problems with conference call services is far too many people go into the call feeling a bit nervous. So, when there is a question asked out loud during the conference call, they do not want to answer because they are not mentally prepared to think on their toes. Some people have a knack for quick thinking, while others need to shake it off and warm up to it. By completing a brain teaser right before the conference call, the creative juices can start flowing and the team can think together. This can actually give one particular team a leg up during the conference call, as they appear more together and have the ability to communicate openly during the call.

3. The Clock Metaphor

Each person is given an equal amount of time to speak with this method. Basically, one person is able to talk for five minutes, or when the long hand moves from the "1" to the "2" on the clock. This continues on down the line until everyone has added what they need to. It also promotes people to talk who might normally be shy. Often times, shy people have all sorts of important information to say, they just don't want to, so they say the minimum. However, if they start to speak and they know they have four minutes left, they might start to spit out their idea, which can then start a complete waterfall effect of them talking out the idea. Make sure to recognize and encourage involvement in the meeting to help them be confident.

4. Introductions Should Be Fun

During a conference call, people often do not know anything about the other participants. Because of this, there is some disconnect, and it can make it difficult for some people to speak up. Many people communicate better when they actually know the other individuals. Making introductions fun makes this far simpler. One method is by having each participant introduce themselves, then say two things that are true about them and one that is not. It is up to the rest of the participants to guess which one is not true. This way, it just breaks the ice and adds a bit of fun while people learn about one another. It might sound a bit silly, but that is exactly the point. If people can have a bit of fun with one another, engagement during the conference call is that much easier.

5. Visual Brainstorming

With a visual brainstorm, people can add in their own ideas individually, and then add in each of their ideas to something they see over their computer screens or projector. With everyone able to see them, more ideas will spark and the creativity will begin to flow. The provided information is shared with everyone else in the conference call, but everyone works together to just add in whatever they believe works initially, and then after everyone has included their own ideas into the visual brainstorm, they can sit back and debate each element. Often times, two different ideas can merge perfectly into the best solution possible. Without this form of visual brainstorming that requires everyone in the conference call to participate, the idea may never have been brought to light in the first place.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino