Hey speaker, how good of a speaker are you when you don’t get a chance to show up? I’m not talking about blowing off a speaking gig, rather I’m talking about that virtual stage that all of us find ourselves occupying all too often: the teleconference. You might not view this as an opportunity to give a speech, but it is!
Why Nobody Likes Teleconferences
We all seem to spend a lot of our time in teleconferences, why does nobody seem to like them? It is my personal belief that despite the fact that most of these calls are designed to give a speaker an opportunity to share information with everyone else on the call, this rarely happens.
For some odd reason, most teleconference speakers don’t seem to do a good job of giving a speech that is designed for the teleconference environment. They can’t use the common presentation tips to make what they are saying have more impact. It might be that all too often the presenter is sitting alone in an office somewhere and they are just talking to a phone. This may allow them to forget that they are talking to a group of people and are trying to convince them of something.
Perhaps what we should do is to take just a moment and review what speakers need to do in order to make their next teleconference a success.
How To Solve The #1 Problem With Teleconferences
The biggest problem with teleconferences is that they are, after all, teleconferences. What this means is that everyone on the call is going to be unable to use their most valuable asset: their eyes. Instead they are going to have to rely on their imperfect listening skills.
You may be the most magical speaker out there, but even you would benefit if your teleconference audience could see you. That’s why it’s important that long before the teleconference starts you do some checking to see if you can change it from being a teleconference into a video conference. There are a lot of ways to do this: WebEx, Skype, etc.
Always Start With Enough Time To Finish
All speeches need to be able to fit into the allocated time. This means that you are going to have to clearly communicate to everyone that you can’t see just exactly what is going to happen during the call.
The simplest way to go about doing this is to create and distribute an agenda before the teleconference starts. This way everyone will know who is talking (you) and they’ll know how long you’ll be talking.
A Positive Attitude Is Required
I really shouldn’t have to say this, but your attitude is key to how your message is going to be received. If you start out with a positive attitude, no matter if you are talking about a change that has already happened or if you are talking about changes that may be coming, you’ll capture your audience’s attention.
You need to keep in mind that you can’t see your audience. Since you want them to focus on what you are saying, and not be working on their email, then you need to be delivering a message that they’ll want to hear. Being positive is a key part of doing this well.
It’s Not All About You
Many of us are used to getting up on a stage, delivering a speech, and then getting off of the stage. It turns out that a teleconference is a different type of beast. You need to find ways to include your audience in what you are saying.
One simple way to do this is to ask questions while you are talking. You may or may not want to get people to speak up with answers, but in today’s modern office environment you can get people to instant message or even email their answers to you even while you talk. Find ways to include your audience and they’ll be even more interested in what you are saying.
Always Know Where You Are
One of the most powerful things that a speaker has going for him or her when we are on a stage is that our audience can’t leave. Well, actually they could, but social pressure causes most of them to stay in their seats while we’re talking.
However, on a teleconference your audience can easily drift away while you’re talking. In fact, if you talk for too long, then they will almost undoubtedly leave and you may end up talking only to yourself.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to keep track of your time. Respect the fact that your audience has other things to do and other places to go. Make sure that you end early and leave plenty of time for questions about what you’ve said at the end.
What All Of This Means For You
So it turns out that really doesn’t matter what you think about teleconferences – they are here to stay. As a speaker, you need to start to look at these events as an opportunity to give a phone-based speech. This is a unique situation that truly shows the importance of public speaking skills.
However, there are a lot of different ways that a speaker can miss out on taking full advantage of this speaking opportunity. When your audience can’t see you or when you try to pack too much information into too short of a time, you’re going to be doomed to failure. You can boost your odds of success by starting with a positive attitude and making sure to include your remote audience. Finally, although it’s always important, it’s even more important while on a teleconference to keep track of your time.
Speakers have a skill set that most other people don’t have – we know how to effectively communicate information to an audience. One of the benefits of public speaking is that we’ve done this before. We need to remember all of the speaking skills that we’ve developed when we are on a teleconference. If we can do this, then just maybe next time our audience will be looking forward to their next teleconference with us.
Question For You: What do you think that the maximum time that a teleconference should run is?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
When we are on the stage giving a speech, even if this is not easy for us to do, at least we know what we need to do. We can learn how to keep the audience’s attention, we know how to communicate information effectively, and basically we understand the importance of public speaking. We also understand how to interpret all of the signals that the audience is sending our way. All of this knowledge may be contributing to why so many speakers do such a poor job of communicating with groups when a telephone is involved…