Top Facilitator Tips: Telephone or Web Meetings

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top facilitator tipOver the past decade or so there has been a huge explosion in the use of VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Services such as Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom and other VOIP platforms have grown exponentially in parallel with the growth of the “gig” economy. The term “gig” does not refer to gigabytes rather the nature of short term contracts with specialty third party contractors. Gig is a term used by live performers like musical bands, theater groups and other traveling entertainers. Globalization and communications technology have allowed worldwide participation of skilled technical labor that has helped provide a large variety and depth of expertise anywhere in the world, which has helped keep costs down and the availability of special skills more plentiful. However, none of that could take place without VOIP and new communications platforms.

Because this remote collaboration is so prevalent, it helps to know how to prepare for and manage online and other forms of off-site collaborations. The following list has proven to be very helpful in making the best use of these types of meetings.

  • Allow more time for the meeting/working session – it takes longer to keep callers engaged.
  • Make a list of who was on the phone on a flip chart at the onset of the meeting. This aids in easily remembering who is on the phone and not missing anyone in rounds of discussion.
  • Call on specific people who are on the phone from time to time – randomly and in order.
  • Ask for confirmation on understanding for each person on the phone periodically (not possible to see heads nodding or other signals people are ‘with you’ you can’t see.)
  • Roll-call for attendance, ensure callers introduce themselves.
  • Assist with technology, check often during onset of the session to verify everyone online can see/hear OK.
  • Keep phone group engaged; do not forget them.
  • Share subtle pleasantries – “assume a head nod for those on the phone.”
  • You will need to be creative in making ‘state changes’ every 20 minutes to keep the energy up.
  • Stop every 5 minutes and engage the online participants briefly to verify they can hear/see adequately.
  • For each round of discussions with live/phone group, make it a point to check-in with each person in both the room and on the phone, alternating who goes first (people in room vs. phone) for each round of questioning or check-in.
  • If the meetings are multicultural and many of the participants are not native language speakers, ask them to repeat themselves if it is hard to understand them. In fact, it is always a good idea to have a range of native speakers to help with any translations. Be patient if the accent is hard to understand and always ask yourself how good are you with their language?

If you are a group facilitator, use these suggestions and you will find your meetings will run smoother and be much more productive.


Additional Reading

How to Become a Master Meeting Presenter

Executives: Get Top Performance from Your Contractors and Remote Teams by Communicating Culture 


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