Conferencing Tips

Keep you and your audience focused on what's most important, your message.

Encouraging Open Discussion

If you're having trouble getting your callers to participate freely during conference calls, try these tips:

Open up your meeting with a roll call. This gets your participants talking from the very beginning, and helps them to learn each other's voices. A good strategy is to ask a question before you begin calling the roll, and ask each person to respond with their answer when their name is called. This can be something relevant to the topic (such as this week's progress towards a goal), or something to relax everyone and create a more personable atmosphere (such as what everyone did over the weekend).

Make sure all participants are familiar with each other. If you have invited someone new to a regularly scheduled meeting, make sure to introduce them to the group with a brief background and a description of what they can contribute.

Track who's talking. Keep a list of all participants in front of you during the meeting, and make a point to call on participants who haven't spoken much. Make this practice a regular part of your conference calls, so participants will know that they are expected to contribute.

When it's time to open up for discussion, take the lead. Make the first suggestion, or list a few possible branches for the discussion to follow. This will "jog" the brains of your participants, and eliminate the sometimes uncomfortable position of being "first"!

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