Waking Up the Conference Call Zombie

Have you ever been on a conference call, covering vital information, only to find out that 90% of your participants aren't actually participating?  I am more than guilty of tuning out a boring conference call.  I dial in, put my phone on mute, and become a passive listener at best. 

Turns out, I'm not alone.  At least once during every conference call I have been on this week (which were plenty...), a question was asked of one of the participants, and they did not reply until someone said their name.  Their response then:  "I'm sorry, what was that?" 

The question then becomes, how do we engage our participants and make them all (well, we'll shoot for 50% of them at least) ACTIVE listeners? 

I can't speak for everyone, but I can say that I personally am more likely to be an active listener, if the meeting seems more organized.  Send me an agenda beforehand, and I can track our meeting progress.  I am way less likely to tune you out if I feel like we're actually progressing toward the end.  Plus, with an agenda, you can let all of the participants know what you are expecting from then during the call.  If I know that at some point I'm going to have to answer questions about a contract for a new customer, I'm more likely to be prepared and listening for my queue to speak.

Also, I'm a visual person.  I need visual aides.  Send out a PowerPoint presentation to all of the participants beforehand, or hold the meeting in an online environment such as Live Meeting, and let us see pretty colored slides and bullet points.

Yours truly, The Undead


  1. You know, it never occurred to me to send out an agenda for a conference call. I mean, I do it for live meetings in the conference room, but for whatever reason, I never thought to for a call. Makes total sense, though. I will for the next one I have, for sure!

  2. It can make all of the difference to getting people to pay attention.

    By the way, for the reader that asked in an email who that adorable kid was on the phone in the picture, YES, that is my little angel.