We’ve all had our share of conference call horrors, and it’s not uncommon to have that chatty participant who just has too much to say and hinders the progress of the call altogether. If only this were a face-to-face conference, you tell yourself, and maybe I can give Chatty Cathy a good stare to make her stop? Perhaps a little nudge and a “Cathy, somebody else needs the floor now”?
Unfortunately, when it comes to telephone or online conferences, it becomes a more challenging beast to tackle. You may find that clearing your throat just doesn’t do the work. So what can you do when you have someone hogging the lines?
As a conference call organizer, it is very important to only invite key and relevant players on the call. Of course we wouldn’t want input from someone who has no stake in the topic to be discussed.
Another helpful thing would be to have everyone spend the first few minutes of the call talking about how they are or how their day is, just to clear whatever irrelevant thing there is that they might want to get out of their system. This builds rapport and even gets people in the mood to actually listen to everyone else.
It also helps to establish the goal in the beginning so everyone knows what they’re gunning for. You have to be an active facilitator/moderator and keep everyone on the topic at hand.
Another thing that could help is to assign tasks to different participants. With this, they would be focused and occupied with their role on the call instead of interrupting or disrupting the flow. It also fosters active participation.
Other times, you may encounter hearing someone in a side conversation, or perhaps someone who have put their phone on hold and the entire conference can hear hold music. They could be away from their keyboard and might be unresponsive. In times like this, you can utilize a feature like ConferTel’s Active Talker, where you can locate the line making the disturbance and either disconnect or mute it. It’s especially vital when it comes to multiple people on the line so you can identify who the active talker is.
Of course, there’s always the option to let a chatty participant know if their “active” participation is getting out of hand, but it could be at the risk of looking like you’re discouraging discussion. In the meantime, you can utilize some of these tips to improve the flow of your conference calls and make sure they stay on point!