I just spent an hour and a half on conf-call with 3 people, sharing training information from a session they missed last year. This post gives 5 simple tips on how to do this well.
During a 4-day Project Mgt Round-Table initiative, each afternoon was dedicated to learning people and behavioural skills. The afternoon they missed was all about “Understanding other people” and “Commercial Communication”. Since they missed the training, the call today was to get them up-to-speed. In that sense, a knowledge-building session (rather than skill building), but I didn’t want it to be “just me talking”.
As a personal debrief, here are some tips for trainers who train over the phone (or just general conf-call tips) – list is a non-exhaustive and in order of thought, not priority:
Don’t be afraid to “ham-it-up” a little and “act more”
Boring people are boring to listen to. Boring voices are hard to pay attention to. Use your voice intonation and personal style as much as possible to keep people awake. This is true anyway, but on a call go 120% from time-to-time. You need to be the energetic speaker with intonation.
Take time to address individuals
2 elements – first address individuals, then take time.
- Addressing individuals is all about asking specific people to speak. Instead of “Who can tell me what the ‘B’ stands for in the FAB acronym?” ask : “Vincent. What do you think the ‘B’ stands for in the FAB acronym?”. The only thing to be careful with is to make sure that you systematically ask questions to all participants and avoid missing anyone out. You can explain up-front that this is what will be doing..
- Take time. It is true that people don’t like silence, but its also true that we sometimes badly estimate what people are doing on the phone when we have just asked a question. We might easily mistake 10 seconds silence for “I don’t know” (which is much easier to see, than hear). If you are worried people don’t know an answer, or don’t dare to answer, follow-up with “Would you like to answer, Vincent?” * ….but give them a little time to think first!
* you don’t have to call everyone Vincent, even on conf-calls 🙂
Make sure you repeat regularly the structure of your call
This is important in any training/meeting, but doubley-so on a conf-call. The vast majority of people respond best to visual stimuli (like your PPT or flip-chart agenda) and often this is missing in a conf-call, so you need to repeat and regular moments the purpose, learning objectives and agenda of your call. If you’ve never seen a “Dora-the-Explorer” cartoon, watch one and see how good she is at reminding you that “first we went over the bridge, then we went through the woods, now its time to…..”
Try to use a visual support for your call
If you can use NETmeeting, send a PPT, or even ask people to visualise something, this is very handy to help create concentration, improve attention and create recall for the vast majority rep systems. Don’t forget the visual element!
Use more “confirmation moments” than you might do in a classroom or face-to-face environment
When you are face-to-face with trainees, it’s quite easy to see if they are following you. * On the phone, don’t be afraid to ask from time-to-time: “Is that OK?”, “Do you have any questions?”, “What do you think about this?” (followed inevitably by “Anyone?”) …or even of course: Ask someone specific!
* although it would be naive to assume that the smiley face in front of you has understand more than the girl in Indiana Jones’ classroom
I hope this was interesting for you. Feel free to add comments with more ideas on how to do well in conf-call training sessions.