Saturday, August 29, 2009

Teleconferences that make you SNOOooore - the Italian Smoke Break

Meeting by phone fantastic, you can work from anywhere, connect across the globe and share ideas with words and voice. But if you’re like me it’s tough to sit through just about any meeting and teleconferences make it that much harder to stay engaged. Sure an amazing facilitator makes a difference but come on, we can do better!

After I facilitated a recent teleconference, I decided it was about time to search out effective, creative techniques. I couldn’t find much other than the usual tips. Here’s our chance to revolutionize this communication tool. Instead of checking emails, eating lunch and playing Sudoku, here are a few of my ideas:

Bingo (to stay focused on outcomes)
Create a bingo card agenda. In each square write an outcome for the meeting.
Write actions to be taken in each square as you address the outcome.
Have participants ‘dab’ their squares along the way with highlighters, pictures or items on their desk (erasers, paperclips).
Once a row or card is complete meeting’s over.
Variation: Visit the idea is to slip in as many words on the card as possible into the conversation, just in case you need a break!

On and Off AKA Interval Training or my favourite The Italian Smoke Break (to explore creatively and creativity)
Brain-based research reports that after 15-20 minutes our minds wander.
So build your agenda in 15 minute intervals.
An idea on how to use this principle:
For a one hour session have 5 intervals.
The first & third are online participation and discussion (15 minutes each).
The second & forth are off (10 minutes each).
The last is a 10 minute wrap up.
15 minutes sharing, 10 minutes off, 15 sharing, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes wrap up.
During the ‘off’ intervals participants stay on the line (difficult to get everyone hooked up if you disconnect) but are not interacting with each other.
People may opt to mute themselves during the ‘off’ time.
Off time may include: Giving participants focused assignments or tasks such as having them surf the net for new information, talk with others in their workplace, go for a walk and clear their heads, read an article, etc.
You may also want to play elevator music for their listening pleasure.

Exer-Size (to get people off their chairs)
Choose one exercise as an analogy for each agenda item.
When you move to each item, have participants DO the exercise together.
For example if you are discussing work/life balance, have participants stand up, close their eyes, lift one foot, hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Talk them through the feeling of imbalance, awareness, use of proprioceptors, etc.
Research the exercise or talk to a kinesiologist for more ideas.

I’ve got more, just ask.

Love to hear your revolutionizing tips and techniques that not only will keep everyone awake but stimulate their participation (posting comments should work now). I’ll post our list of creative teleconference techniques on my website at (look for the launch of my new website coming soon).

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