8 Tips For Engaging Your Dial-In Meeting Attendees

Nancy Pautsch    Nancy.Pautsch@envisionitllc.com
November 23, 2015

8 Tips to Engaging Your Dial-In Meeting Attendees

We’ve all experienced it, the dial-in meeting where one person talks and everyone else is either too afraid or too distracted to chime in.

Let’s paint the picture, it’s 2pm and you have a meeting with your project team, 2 in Wisconsin, 2 in New York City, and 4 others who are spread across the rest of the country. You hop onto the call and one after the other:

Beep

“Joe just joined”

Beep

::dog barking::

“Robin’s here”

Beep

::silence::

“Who just joined?”

::silence::

“Alright, I guess we have a ghost participant”

::awkward laughs as each person unmutes themselves::

Remote meetings can be just that, awkward. And let’s face it, we’re still getting used to working with each other remotely as new technology, like GoToMeeting, is more readily used in the business world.

Don’t let your next dial-in meeting be one worth muting, instead check out these tips for engaging your remote meeting attendees.

 

Limit your audience and beware of bigwigs

Ask yourself who has to be there? Who will contribute? And who am I just inviting because it’s easier to invite them to a meeting than to send a recap? A good rule of thumb is to limit your meetings to 5 at most. Naturally, the less people, the more comfortable your attendees will be to speak up. Additionally, try not to include higher level executives.  Having the “Chief of Something Really Important” join the call is a surefire way to intimidate people and discourage input.

 

Give them something to talk about

Give your attendees a purpose for joining the meeting and share responsibility. Send out an email to each of the attendees beforehand and ask them for an agenda item, or assign them to a topic you’d like to discuss during the meeting. It helps engage others on the line and breaks up the monotony of a single person talking.

 

Set the stage

Don’t keep your attendees in the dark about what the meeting is about. A while back I was introduced to the concept of PAL - purpose, agenda and limit. Spend some time on what you put into the meeting invite. Including a purpose will set the scope for the meeting, an agenda will keep the conversation on topic, and setting a limit will keep you from going over time.

 

Share it

Share your screen when applicable, and even better, ask everyone to enable their webcam during the call. When something is going on on the screen and everyone is camera ready, they’ll be more inclined to pay attention.

 

Dead air is your friend

Dead air makes everyone uncomfortable.  I was once on a call where the moderator asked questions throughout and waited patiently until someone spoke up.  The dead air was excruciating until people got the hint and started participating.  The call turned into a very successful exchange.  Additionally, call on people if you don’t get a response. And keep doing it.  It can be as simple as “James, what do you think?”

 

Beware of call-jackers

How many times have you been on a call on a broad topic that was taken over by someone wanting to talk about their unique situation?  Step in quickly and politely let the person know that you will gladly discuss their individual concern offline.

 

Mute with caution

This is probably the opposite of what you’ve heard regarding meeting etiquette in the past. We’ve all done it before, dial in, mute and continue working on something completely different. While no one wants to hear Rufus in the background, muting will encourage your attendees to multitask and completely disengage.  

 

Delegate responsibility

Have someone take notes for you during the meeting, or keep the time to ensure you don’t go over. End the meeting by assigning open questions or tasks to individuals on the call. Ask them to follow up with the group, or, if it’s a recurring meeting, have them to bring the answer to the next meeting. Your attendees will learn more and it’s an easy way to add agenda items for the following week.

 

References:  

http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/44437/5-ways-to-make-your-virtual-meetings-more-engaging

https://businesscollective.com/7-tips-for-improving-your-remote-meetings/



Tags: Technology