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Hearing Crickets on Web Conference Calls? 3 Tips to Get People to Participate!

Dead air and chirping crickets—is that what you hear when someone asks a question during virtual meetings? It’s frustrating for the facilitator and the participants! How do you get people to participate? How do you get what you need from shy (or multitasking!) stakeholders?

If you can’t get people to talk, then let them click or type. Boost participation on your web conference calls by using these 3 techniques:

  1. Chat. If your virtual meeting tool has a chat function, use it. If not, try an instant messenger or even texting. Ask participants to submit ideas or thoughts to you privately or to the group. Facilitate dialog related to the chat items. Many introverts will prefer this over chiming in verbally. Keep reminding attendees during the call that this option is available to them.
  2. Poll. Before the meeting take time to brainstorm important group questions. Then determine which questions would work well in a poll. Use the polling feature in your web conferencing tool, conduct polls via email, or use something like Poll Everywhere. You might post a poll at the beginning of the meeting to understand how many people reviewed the material before the meeting, or you could use a poll mid-meeting to determine how many people are ready to move on to the next topic. As a facilitator, the poll results help you see how many people are actively participating in the meeting.
  3. Annotate. Ask participants to annotate a document on the screen using a screen-sharing tool or a virtual whiteboard. Ask them to place “X” marks or checkmarks on items they agree with or want to discuss further. For example, you could place a bullet list of risks on the screen and ask them to place an X next to the highest risk. Alternatively, you could share a list of requirements and ask your attendees to place a checkmark by the requirements they consider the highest priority for today’s meeting.


Angela Wick will be presenting a free webinar with ITMPI on June 1! Sign up here: Virtual Requirements Meetings: Meaningful Dialog Secrets Exposed!

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