I guess at least some of you have already spent parts or even most of their day glued to a telephone or other device trying to participate in ‘global’ calls, brainstormings or discussions with various others. Being a virtual team member is far from being easy, even if you don’t have to lead a session in a particular moment, that is for sure.
The hardest thing to follow is actually when you have a group of people sitting together in a room and others participating on the phone in different locations. The team sharing a physical location has definitely an advantage over the other participants as its members can visually interact and see each others faces and gestures. It gets especially difficult, when not everybody can be clearly understood through the phone. Another tricky thing is that you might not even know who is speaking as you don’t know all the people on the line and hence cannot recognize the voices. Very few people actually state their name when they speak as they tend to forget that not all the participants can see them.
How do you make the most out of such sessions without giving in to the temptation of doing other things while your phone continues to speak, on mute?
As a participant you should look at the agenda right from the start, before the call has even started and identify the areas of interest to you. Write down a couple of points that you want to touch upon, or simply note some thoughts. This will help you to stay focused during the call especially for the parts that are important for you.
Remember: nobody can listen for hours in a row! If an agenda is set up in a right way, it will leave enough breaks to allow for the participants to re-focus. It will also take into account the different periods of the day the participants are in and hence move the parts where solid input is expected to reasonable times so that the people are still awake.
As an organizer, this website provides a helpful oversight over time zones and lets you easily schedule global meetings.
If you need participants from all over the world, I would also highly recommend scheduling various meetings having the same topic, even if it means that you have to repeat yourself. You will ensure that nobody will be expected to attend at an unusual hour, which makes people happier and hopefully they will contribute more actively. You could for example structure your meeting like a World Café, where every contribution actually builds up on the contributions of the previous sessions. By doing so, you ensure that even for you, it doesn’t get boring and the outcome will definitely be there.
Apart from that, if you can, try to make the sessions as short as possible. The shorter you time your meeting, the more attention you will get and the more focused your participants will be. Oh, and avoid lengthy power point shows, you will loose your audience in minutes. Write down bullet points of what is being said or accompany the discussion in a way that makes it more interesting to the participants, even those not being physically there!
If you have any more insights to share or tipps and tricks on how to ‘survive’ long calls, let me know!
Have an excellent morning, afternoon, evening, night! Jenny
- Getting people face-to-face will increase collaboration at Yahoo! (forbes.com)
- 3 ways to succeed in your pajamas! (jennyebermann.com)
- Integrating face-to-face and virtual communication strategies (i-ReConnect)