Nothing beats face-to-face communication. But it seems that we're communicating more often by audio conference. My clients are continually challenged by this medium. It's no wonder. Visual communication, which is 55% of the message, is missing. So here are six tips to get the results you want from an audio conference.
- Send the agenda in advance to all callers. It will give introverts or international participants time to digest the material.
- Set the expectations at the beginning of the call. Tell them to mute their phones, announce their names before speaking, hit the keypad if they have a question.
- Assign a room monitor. Conference calls can be chaotic. To keep control, ask each site to select a point person. That person will speak for the group when there are technical difficulties or communication challenges.
- Test equipment by calling in 10 minutes early. This will give the technical person time to troubleshoot.
- Count to four before you answer. There may be audio delays. People need a pause to absorb what you just said. Rapid speaking will cause listeners to lose the message.
- Engage the listeners. If you're a talking head for 30 minutes, they'll be checking email. Check in periodically and ask for questions and feedback. Require them to do something. Example: "Draw a circle. Put your project in the middle. Now draw 6 spokes around the circle. Write each module on the spokes." Having more than one speaker will keep their attention longer.
And don't forget to recap the follow-up steps so nothing falls through the cracks. Remember an audio conference is a presentation.