During a recent Presentation Skills program that I was delivering I was asked the question “How do you keep an audience that you cannot see engaged?” I had not been asked that question in the past and it made perfect sense that I should include this in my future programs, given the amount of teleconferences and webinars that take place today.
I asked my alliance partner, who does virtual training for a few tips. I also did a little research and thought I would share with you my findings:
Tips to Promote Engagement when you cannot see the audience
Use language to promote engagement:
ASK: What questions do you have? Instead of: Are there any questions? (this will likely result in silence)
STATE: I’ll give each of you one minute to write down your question and then we will begin with ________________________
OPTIONAL QUESTIONS TO ASK:
If you had a question, what might it be?
What question might someone else on the call have?
When I first heard this information I had some questions and they were __________________ so what might be some of yours?
Whenever possible, enforce a strict no mute button rule during a teleconference or web conference
Check with group regularly e.g. every 6 minutes or after 3 slides
Call the behavior (ex. if you hear silence it can mean many things – I’m thinking, I agree, disagree, I stepped away from the computer) ask people directly, I am hearing silence and I am not sure what it is about.
I recommend publishing the following 10 Conference Etiquette Tips to participants:
- Distribute and agenda – start and stop on time
- Arrange call in non-lunch time hours (encouraging people to not eat on the call)
- Treat the conference call the same as a face-to-face meeting (no emails, no cell phones or texting)
- Be on time for the call (if you are the moderator send dail in #, pass code and instructions multiple times)
- Participate with the assumption your line is never muted (can save embarrassment)
- One person speaks at a time (do not talk over people)
- Don’t shuffle papers
- Do not take another call
- Do not use hold button (this can make annoying and distracting noises)
- Speak loudly and clearly – identify yourself when you speak