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The number of people who are using mobile phones to dial into conference calls is steadily rising. While this is a good way to increase attendance because people can dial in from anywhere, it also means that they can be doing a multitude of other things at the same time (as shown in the graph below) and may not be giving their full attention to the conference.
According to recent research by Intercall, almost 40% of respondents said they’ve dropped off a call without announcing they’ve done so in order to pretend they stayed on, 27% reported having fallen asleep on at least one occasion and 13% say they’ve been 'outed' for taking a call in a place other than where they claimed.
Other places respondents admitted to being while also on the line with their coworkers include:
“In the middle of the woods during a hiking trip”
“Outside while grilling and getting a tan”
“A truck stop bathroom”
“Behind a church during a wedding rehearsal”
“Fitting room while trying on clothes”
“The closet of a friend’s house during a party”
“The beach…it was a video call so I kept my tablet up so that my bikini didn’t show”
“Hospital ER”, and
“Chasing my dog down the street because she got out of the house”
To discourage your conference call participants from allowing themselves to be distracted, here are some techniques for holding everyone's attention during a conference call according to Keith Ferrazzi of the Harvard Business Review.
Implement a 'take 5' moment at the beginning of each call where, for the first five minutes of the meeting, “everyone should take turns and talk a little about what’s going on in their lives, either personally or professionally”. This will help break the ice and get people in the mood to actually listen to one another.
Assign tasks to different participants, like taking minutes or managing a Q&A, to keep everyone paying attention.
Conference calls are in some ways superior to face-to-face meetings. They can be easily recorded for future reference, and additional people can be quickly dialled in to offer their expertise if and when required, rather than having to be found around the office. If meetings are conducted with these measures in place, your conference call will be efficient and effective.
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