Monday, June 13, 2011

Communication Problem: "No One Asked Questions During The Teleconference"

by Gilda Bonanno LLC http://www.gildabonanno.com/

In April, I presented "Bold Presentation Skills" for the Project Management Institute, Central Massachusetts chapter (CMass PMI). During the session, a project manager asked me the following question:

"I set up a teleconference to introduce a new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to about sixty customers. No one had any questions or responded to me on the call. What should I do to prevent this from happening next time?"

Here is how I responded to her question:

1. Ask "What questions do you have?" It's an open-ended question that is more likely to elicit a response than the closed-ended, "Do you have any questions?"

2. Pause after you ask, "What questions do you have?" Not everyone has a question on the tip of their tongue; some people need time to formulate a question and to muster the courage to speak up. So resist the urge to fill the empty airtime by jumping into your next point. Be comfortable with the silence.

3. If you've had questions from people during the day or when working with them one-on-one, ask them to share it on the teleconference. Sometimes people are shy about asking questions because they feel "stupid," so explain that the questions will help you and the others on the call, who probably have similar questions but are afraid to ask. (For more on the decline in asking questions as we grow up, see my June 6 blog post, To Learn More, Be Like a Child & Ask Questions)

4. Introduce the questions yourself; for example, you could say, "Earlier today someone asked me about…" or "Usually at this point in my presentation, customers usually ask me…"

5. Go around the "virtual room" and ask people by name, "What one thing have you learned/picked up so far?" Then you can repeat the round and this time ask them, "What would you still like to know about…?"

With the right planning and communication, you can set up an environment where participants ask questions on your teleconference, so they can get maximum benefit and you can gauge how the implementation is going.

Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com

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