When you lead town hall meetings and other presentations over the phone, you must find ways to raise employees’ alertness level. But how can you connect with dozens of listeners if you cannot see them?
Leading a conference call requires constant engagement. If you talk too much, you’ll lose your audience. And you won’t know it, because you’ll advance from slide to slide or shift from topic to topic without seeing how boredom has taken hold.
To compel everyone to pay attention, follow these tips:
1. Ask for individual input. Calling on someone to make a comment signals to the group that you want to start a dialogue. The risk is that you pick a person who’s not prepared to speak.
Play it safe by contacting a handful of employees before your presentation. Tell them you intend to call on them during your talk; that way, they’ll be ready to offer substantive comments.
By calling on a few people, you make the rest of the audience think that they may be next. They will listen more attentively as a result.
2. Drop suggestive hints. At various points during your presentation, prod a segment of your audience to chime in. If you’re discussing how frequent storms have affected shipments, say, “I know many of you in the East Coast have faced this. Anyone care to discuss how you’ve dealt with weather-related issues?”
3. Poll the group. Use instant surveys to assess morale, measure activity levels or gain insights into customer behavior. Periodically pose queries to the audience and ask everyone to answer your polling question online. Post the results soon after and analyze the findings.
— Adapted from Communication Counts, Mary Civiello and Arlene Matthews, John Wiley & Sons.