With telecommuting become part and parcel of daily life, the need to encourage conference call participation is on all our radars. Whether you are a developer, manager, director or client, you will probably understand the challenges that conference call participation can pose. Meeting dynamics often solidify rather quickly, as extraverted participants take centre stage and readily express their opinions. Bolder characters may be excellent for producing new ideas. Unfortunately, though, it can cause participants who are more reserved to fade into the background. If you want to enhance your team’s productivity and unity, implementing some of the following solutions can work wonders. After all, we all want to learn how to have more effective conference calls.
Both the call’s leader and its participants can make a huge difference in encouraging conference call participation. Read on to discover some tips and tactics to improve your team’s conference call participation.
Improving call participation as a call leader
Encouraging conference call participation is a top priority for the call’s leaders. After all, leaders’ time is invariably invaluable. Plus, if you have taken the time to organise the meeting, clearly you think it’s important. You’ll have an agenda and objectives, and hopefully a carefully planned meeting. If you’ve not got a detailed outline yet, check out our template to get started. And to ensure engagement on the call, think about every detail – even the time you set for your conference call can make a huge difference.
As the call leader and initiator, your motivation is undoubtedly to get things done. Participation is pivotal to making the meeting truly valuable. Having an imbalance of overbearing participants and reserved spectators isn’t ideal. A good place to start is to train yourself to notice these dynamics in the first place. That means getting to grips with unspoken cues on conference calls.
To encourage conference call participation, consider implementing some of the solutions below…
Touch base with your team to encourage conference call participation
Before deep-diving into the meeting’s subject, take some time to engage with the team. Doing this can level out communication between different personalities and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable to participate. Asking the team how work is going or what progress they have made on a particular project can be a brilliant route for promoting a two-way dialogue. Not only will call participants feel more confident when speaking out with you as their call manager, but they will also hopefully apply this to their fellow meeting attendees. And if you’re really looking to lighten the mood and set everyone at ease, take a look out our advice on making conference calls more fun. More fun means more engagement, and that’s a sure-fire way to encourage conference call participation.
Hand over the wheel
Often, an overly structured meeting leaves a lack of room for creativity, and a one-way presentation might reduce the sense of openness. Participants might refrain from contributing if they perceive their comments as interruptive. Letting the team share control instead is a good way of creating a sense of exchange and collaboration.
Of course, sharing management of the meeting might not always be possible, especially if you are delivering a large amount of information or data which requires time to cover. But if a collaborative approach is possible, a good way of executing it is by starting before the meeting even begins. Ask colleagues to help creating the meeting agenda itself, so that teamwork is baked right in. You could also be sure to include time for open discussion periods throughout the meeting to really encourage conference call participation.
Invite people to share if you want to encourage conference call participation
A common hindrance to conference call participation is the fear of offending others. Team members might disagree with something, and instead of speaking out, participants tend to stay silent to avoid conflict. As a call leader, inviting others to comment on what you have presented or what a colleague has put forward can be an excellent tool to encourage conference call participation.
This goes far beyond the bounds of the conference call, though. It’s part of a broad and ever more popular concept known as psychological safety. Essentially, it’s what’s required to ensure that staff feel happy being really honest about their opinions and their feelings. Fostering a sense of psychological safety is an important part of creating a productive and happy workplace. It’s something that needs to be front-of-mind every minute of every day. Don’t worry though – for most people, it’s instinctive. And for people who tended to manage quite differently, it soon becomes second-nature.
How do I participate in a conference call?
While problems with conference call participation can lie with the call leader, often it can be down to the individual to ensure reasonable levels of participation. To better your involvement in meetings, there are some tips to consider.
Honesty is important if you want to encourage conference call participation: frame it carefully
If you don’t speak up because you are resistant to criticism, consider revisiting your delivery, so that other call participants are receptive. Convert your statements into questions. For example, instead of “I believe implementing X, Y and Z would be effective”, consider saying “Do you think implementing X, Y and Z would be effective?”. This way, you are offering your suggestions in a form that people can respond to easily. Being open to feedback is a simple yet efficient way to encourage conference call participation.
Make sure you’re well-prepared for the conference call
Preparation is another significant influence on your ability to participate. If you you are struggling to participate because you lack knowledge, find time to research or prepare some ideas. Even if you don’t prepare talking points, you might have some opinions you can share. Make sure you remind your colleagues about the call and prompt them to prepare too – it’s a great way to encourage conference call participation. If you all know what you’re talking about and what you think about the topics at hand, you’ll be ready to contribute.
Choose the right conference call tool to improve participation
Alternatively, conference call services like WHYPAY? are great tools to improve you and your team’s engagement. Conference call features such as participant announcements or advanced muting modes allow callers to feel more relaxed by maximising or minimising communication at the right times.
Find out how our users achieve this in their conference call reviews!
Of course, the first step to participating in a conference call is setting one up, and knowing how to join it. Before you master your roles in conferences, it might be useful to know how to join one easily first. Visit our sign up page, create an account and obtain your free conference call number – it’s that simple!Create a FREE Teleconference