Over the last three years, government agencies and businesses have been tightening their belts; the trend is to hold more meetings, classes, and conferences via teleseminar or webinar format. This is important information for those of us who speak, teach, or facilitate meetings for a living. If an organization isn’t ready to hire you to speak at their location, possibly the teleconference or webinar format will work for them and you.
This week, I was asked by MicholAnn from the city of Pullman, Washington if they could use the article you’re receiving in their newsletter. MicholAnn has used my articles before and when I asked her, “Why this article?”, she said that their employees are being asked to attend more and more phone meetings — a technology that is very new to her city’s government employees. She’d like to give them my guide to this new technology.
You can read the article below.
I’ve been conducting teleconferences since 1999 and became a certified Teleclass Leader in 2000. I’m sad to say that I’m no longer amazed at the rudeness of a few teleseminar participants who seem to ruin things for others. I mean, can you imagine someone going to the bathroom while on the call (I’m not making this up), picking up another phone and having a conversation, or complaining about their clients — while everyone on the call listens! And since these folks aren’t paying attention to the teleclass leader, the leader has no recourse other than to put the entire call on mute and stop all the great interaction between the speaker and the students. Sad, indeed.
So, I’m on a mission to educate where education is needed.
I’d love to hear your stories — the good, bad, and ugly of teleseminars. Just post a comment here at my blog or start a conversation at LinkedIn where you found this post.
Your Cooperation Please! TeleSeminar Etiquette
The great thing about a teleseminar is that you can attend in your fuzzy slippers without leaving your home or office. Unfortunately comfort zones can be a downside, as distractions split your focus and cause you to disrupt the call. These ten tips will help you get the most out of your teleseminar, and create an enjoyable, educational, disruption-free class for you, the leader, and other participants.
Have you ever read Robert Fulghum’s, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”? It’s contains a goldmine of simple wisdom, stuff like: “Share Everything”, “Play Fair”, and “Clean Up Your Own Mess.” Well, life and teleseminars follow the same set of rules. By playing nice and staying aware of a few simple boundaries, you and everyone else on the call will have a great experience.
1. Entering the Arena
Once you’re registered for the teleseminar, email the leader with any questions you have about the process. Be sure to call in on time, as this shows consideration for others in the seminar. Give yourself a buffer by planning to call the pre-assigned number at least 3 minutes early. Enter the pin code, followed by #. Synchronize your watch with a reliable source, such as http://www.TimeAndDate.com.
On some calls, the leader will know when a participant has arrived because there will be a “click” on the line. Unless the leader asks, don’t announce yourself if you are late for the call or have to leave early.
Time is usually set aside for students to network before the call, or for the first minute or so of the teleseminar. The leader will often welcome you to the call, and ask you to introduce yourself. At this point you are invited to chime in.
2. Shhhhh! We’re Trying to Pay Attention
Although no one can see you, everyone can hear you. Every noise in your home or office comes across the phone in stereo, so call from a quiet location. Yup, that paper shuffling, the keyboard-clicking, a co-worker talking on the phone, a flushing toilet, water running in the sink, or a baby fussing. Even downloading files from your computer can be heard by the entire group and cause the speaker to be drowned out. All of this is VERY disruptive to everyone on the call – and it’s rude.
When you can’t call from a quiet location, or there’s a temporary interruption in your space, mute your
phone. This isn’t ideal, as it will limit your active participation. If there is no mute button on your phone, press *6 to temporarily mute the call. When the noise is gone, press *6 again to get back into the call.
3. Essential TeleSeminar Gear
You’ll usually be on a call for at least an hour, often longer. Use the restroom before joining the session. Always have drinks and snacks ready beforehand, so you aren’t running off to the kitchen in the middle of the class. Be sure to MUTE the phone when you’re eating or drinking. Come prepared with paper, pens, and any materials the leader sent beforehand.
4. Speakers and Cells and Computers, Oh My!
Technology is great—who would have thought that so many folks could be on a single line and talk so easily— however it can be troublesome as well. A landline is the best phone type to use during a call. A cell phone with a headset is the next best, and last, a computer or speaker phone can be used.
Cell phones, computer phones, VOIP, and international calls bring static or echoes, causing the worst distractions. If this happens, you may be asked to hang up and call back. OR you may have to mute yourself for the entire call as soon as you log in, which means you won’t be able to fully participate.
5. Be Present: Don’t Multitask
Yes, we know you can write that proposal while watching Larry King, braiding your daughter’s hair, and cooking dinner. Save all that for when the call is over, and bring your mind, energy and full attention to the seminar. Be 100% present on the call, as if you were in the classroom, after all you are in a classroom aren’t you? Give yourself full focus and get the most out of your learning experience.
6. Keep a Positive ‘Tude Dude
If you disagree with something said by a participant or the leader, don’t say, “That’s just plain wrong” or “I take exception to that.” Instead, add positive comments or suggestions. Keep an open mind and provide constructive commentary, and everyone will benefit.
Moving from kindergarten to Aretha Franklin — all your seminar leader needs is a little respect. The teleseminar has an agenda, created to ensure that participants get the most out of the call. Interaction between students and the leader is appreciated, but should be done with respect to the whole group. If you have to leave early – just leave quietly. Anything else disrupts the class. Don’t be the student who needs extra attention, interrupts often, or always adds to the teacher’s comments. Discussion is good, but disrupting the class ruins the experience for everyone. If you need more information on the topic email the leader.
8. Interacting on the Call
These points are critical to the clarity of the call, so keep them in mind:
The three-time rule: Allow yourself to comment or ask questions a maximum of three times during the call. Keep comments short and relevant so that others have a chance to participate.
Wait until the speaker asks for questions. If you have a question while the speaker is talking, write it down so you’ll have it ready when appropriate.
When it’s your turn to speak, begin by announcing your name. Use this format EVERY time you comment or ask a question. This gives a vocal cue that someone wants to speak, and who it is.
If two or more participants try to talk at the same time; the leader will be referee, and determine who goes first, second, etc. Do your best not to interrupt anyone on the call.
If for some reason you have to leave early — simply leave. Don’t announce to the entire class that you’re leaving. Quietly hang up, as anything else disrupts the class.
9. Mission Critical
These are all critical to the clarity of the call:
Turn off three-way calling.
Don’t put your phone on hold at any time during the call.
Disconnect any fax machines attached to your phone.
Make sure of your area is comfortable before the call, as you may be sitting there a while.
Consider that you’re in a classroom. It maybe virtual, but it’s a classroom.
Tell your friends not to call you; ask your children/spouse/co-workers not to visit your office.
And a final biggie: Don’t record the call. This is a violation of copyright laws. Most often the teleseminar leader will be recording the call for a future product offering.
10. It’s Over When it’s Over
Don’t hang up early unless you have to, or you may miss an important bit of information. At the end of the seminar, the leader will usually make an announcement or ask students to help end the call by answering a question. When the class is over, simply say goodbye and hang up.
Teleseminars provide an excellent opportunity to learn in a convenient atmosphere. Follow these guidelines, play nice, and everyone will have a good time and learn lots!
© 2009 Maria Marsala founded Elevating Your Business to provide focus and accountability to accounting, financial, and investment professionals seeking to expedite business growth while enjoying life more. EYB focus on three areas – growth strategy development, customer service, and plan execution as the primary ways to improve revenue, increase productivity, streamline processes, and maximize efficiency. Maria is a former Wall Street trader Visit http://www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com for more information and to download your free Business Evaluator Assessment.