Sarah Stocker - Feb 13, 2012

It’s so difficult to keep everyone focused on conference calls and web meetings. Any pointers?

I agree. Keeping people focused on a conference call is a challenge. Here are a few ideas to make it easier.

First, make sure everyone is aware of the ground rules. Do you want to be interrupted? Do you want everyone’s phone on mute? Do you want everyone to introduce themselves? Letting them know what you expect, and that their involvement is welcome gives them some ownership over the content, which makes them more likely to stay focused. This recommendation is, of course, not going to be appropriate for ALL things, but it’s something you should consider.

Second, create an agenda for your call and share it with everyone. Creating an agenda will help you think through what you want to talk about and create a clear message. The clearer your message, the easier it is for your listeners to stay focused. Plus, an agenda provides your listeners with a framework for the call, much like the introduction to a presentation. In fact, you can use our 4 part introduction strategy for conference calls and web meetings as well as presentations.

Third, once you get into the content of the meeting, spend extra time making sure that everyone is looking at the right thing. If it’s a web meeting, make sure you set up each of your slides carefully. (Assume that attention has wandered and that people won’t realize that a new slide has come up.) If participants are advancing through your deck or handout on their own, be sure to tell them when to move forward and what slide you’re on. If their minds have wandered, hearing something like, “moving on to slide 4” will get their attention and give them the opportunity to tune back in.

Finally, do all that you can to keep your energy up. Make sure you are speaking loud enough for everyone to hear you easily; they can’t stay focused if they can’t hear you. If you can, stand up and deliver the presentation speaking and gesturing as you would to a live audience. That may give you the boost in enthusiasm you need to keep everyone with you.

by Sarah Stocker, Trainer and Workshop Coordinator at Turpin Communication

Written by Sarah Stocker

Sarah Stocker graduated from Bowling Green State University with a BA in Communication. After college, she spent the first five years working as a stage manager for various theatres in Ohio. After moving to Chicago, she worked as a contractor for several Chicago companies, first stage managing corporate theatre productions and then as a project and logistics coordinator for customized training seminars. She came to Turpin in 2005 as a camera operator, then progressed to her Workshop Coordinator and Coach roles. Sarah managed the creation of Turpin’s eCoach.