In November’s post, I introduced the concept of managing your “virtual presence” when working remotely or interacting with remote workers. Little did I know that a few months later the COVID-19 virus would curtail our ability to learn and work in groups and make remote working the new normal, at least for the near future!

Therefore, managing your remote presence is more important than ever. You’ll recall there are 4 areas of focus:

  1. Managing Expectations
  2. Managing the Content
  3. Managing Your Voice
  4. Managing Your Visuals

In December, we shared tips on managing the visuals, and January’s focus was on the voice. This month, our focus is on managing content — specifically, ensuring that your conference call or video-chat doesn’t collapse under the weight of too much content.

We surveyed several hundred participants in our webinar on Virtual Presence and a whopping 95% told us that the plans most organizers have for conference calls are overstuffed and overly ambitious regarding what can actually be accomplished during the scheduled time. As a result, they leave the call feeling uninspired, frustrated or angry.

That’s a huge problem.

If it’s your call to organize, here are 3 tips to engage participants:

1. Chunk it: Break up the content into 10-minute chunks with a decision point or action step that can be obviously accomplished (and celebrated) at the end of each chunk.
2. Ask open-ended questions: Within each chunk, pose a question that encourages people to respond*. Phrase your question carefully so it is especially engaging.
3. Stay on track: If it appears one segment is getting bogged down, suggest it move to an offline discussion so your call agenda can stay on course. Keep calls to one hour or less. If more time is needed, schedule multiple calls.

We keep talking about the new normal. This is a good thing when it comes to the boring BAU of conference calls. I encourage you to elevate your professional presence by creating a new normal that is engaging and efficient.

*Remember that poorly executed calls have literally trained people not to respond, so this will take a little extra time and effort.