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Phone meetings – Good, Bad or Ugly?

Listen up all you folks who conduct or attend phone meetings ─ IWCC wants to cause a subtle shift in your thinking today about how you perceive a phone meeting.

“Phone meetings are meetings that happen to be conducted over the telephone. They are not phone conversations that magically result in meetings.”

Leading a phone meeting? STOP! Are you really prepared?  A good business meeting is not impulsive. It requires a clear objective to reach and a plan to get you there. When you conduct a phone meeting, the same rules apply. But know this – you don’t just need a plan, you need a clever plan.

What makes phone meetings tough? You already know the answer – you can’t see them and they can’t see you. As a result, the meeting leader has trouble engaging attendees, and attendees have trouble staying engaged. And that is a bad recipe for an effective meeting.

How to Keep Attendees Engaged Over the Phone…

Think outside the box and be creative! Here are three ideas to get you started:

  1. Use tools, like tele-brainstorming, to force/encourage participation.
  2. Give everyone a task to keep them occupied and accountable.
  3. Use a bell or gong to signal time targets or stop out-of-control conversations.

Tele-brainstorming…

Tele-brainstorming is IWCC’s innovative way to use brainstorming at-a-distance. Try this at your next meeting:

Step One: Set the Scene

  • Explain that you value everyone’s input and are going to ask them to tele-brainstorm.
  • Ask each individual (or group at one location) to grab a pen/pencil and a pad of paper.
  • Clarify that you will be collecting each individual’s (or group’s) ideas at the end of this exercise.
  • Clearly define the topic they will brainstorm.

Step Two: Brainstorm

  • Give them 60 seconds (no more than 2 minutes) to brainstorm on paper. (ring your bell or gong to stop the activity)
  • Give them 60 seconds to place a checkmark beside their top two (or three) ideas. (ring your bell or gong to stop the activity)

Step Three: Collect the Ideas

  • Call each individual or team by name and ask for their top two (or three) ideas. Record their responses, placing a checkmark beside any idea each time it is repeated.
  • Read the list of ideas out loud and emphasize any that are repeated.
  • Thank them for their input and clarify how you will use this list.
  • Record the list and next steps in the minutes.

Tasks you can Assign...

Just because you are the meeting leader doesn’t mean you have to do all the work! Here are two tasks you can assign to attendees.

  • Timekeeper (give each agenda item a time limit and give your time-keeper the bell/gong)
  • Minute-taker (decisions made, who is responsible for what action items by what date)


What other tasks can you assign? Think out of the box and delegate! For more innovative tips and suggestions, watch IWCC’s “Phone Meetings: What works - What doesn’t?” webinar.

To help you take minutes at your next meeting, download IWCC’s Capturing Information for Meeting Minutes worksheet .

Follow IWCC Training on Twitter.

Posted: February 3, 2011 at 03:38 PM
By: IWCC Training
Categories: Meeting Skills Series

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