Watch the recorded webinar “How to Conduct Better Conference Calls During the Coronavirus Crisis

With the world in Coronavirus lockdown, we’re all using teleconference technology more than ever. So how can we conduct teleconferences so that they seem as “normal” and “in-person” as possible?

Put everyone on camera

When you’re not seen, it’s easy to check out and do emails rather than be tuned in. If you want your meeting to be “normal”, then you have to see everyone. And in today’s world, there’s no excuse to go audio only. The technology just works too well.

Sit up and Look into the Camera

One reason we prefer in-person meetings is eye contact and personal connection. We lose that on a teleconference if we don’t look right into the camera lens.

Here’s an experiment for your next call. Ask someone to talk while looking at their image on the screen. Then have her talk looking directly into the lens of the computer’s camera. When she’s looking at the image of herself, she’ll appear to be looking down. When she’s looking at the camera lens, she’ll appear to be making strong eye contact.

And remember what your mother told you, sit up straight. Too often we see people slouching in their chairs. Act like a news anchor. Lean into the camera and tell us what’s happening.

Have a simple, brief agenda

This is true for all meetings. But it’s particularly true for teleconferences and webinars. That clear agenda tells people that this meeting has direction and won’t last forever.

Try something like this:

Thanks for joining the call. I have three things I’d like to talk about today

  • Last week’s sales figures
  • Why they’re slowing down
  • Our plan to get back on track.

Be Interactive

The whole point of meetings is to discuss stuff. So, you need to encourage interaction. That means establishing on the call a culture of interaction.

One trick is to start the meeting with chit chat. Get people used to talking and interacting before the meeting actually starts. We did a marketing webinar with several hundred people recently. We got on the call early and chatted with early arrivers. That early discussion established a loose feel for the meeting and made people more willing to ask questions.

Another trick is to ask for questions early, often, and aggressively. “Any questions? Jack. I know that you were concerned about our marketing plan. What do you think?”

Embrace the Suck of Internet Lag Time

If two people start talking at once, one of you will get cut off. It’s OK. Interruptions usually mean lots of interaction. And that’s good. Teleconference technology just isn’t perfect. There’s a lag time. Be patient.

Joey Asher

Joey AsherJoey Asher has worked with thousands of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.”