One of the most uncomfortable moments that can happen on a conference call is finding yourself with someone who can’t keep the conversation going and who doesn’t mind the ‘sound of crickets.’ No one speaks. Just dead silence. You end up questioning your presentation and wondering if you have lost the audience.
Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation. A lull in conversation can happen for a variety of reasons. Oftentimes, a person on the other end will be multitasking and will look for any break in the conversation to send an email, check his or her mobile device or complete an administrative task.
The silence could mean that an individual is simply waiting for you to talk. A caller might even mute their line and then forget to un-mute before answering. In any case, it is poor etiquette to expect the people on the call to keep the conversation going—especially if you initiated the call. So, what do you do?
There are three keys to remember when dealing with Conference Call Silence:
1. Patience Makes Perfect on Conference Calls
It is easy to lose your patience when dealing with conference calls. There are times when it feels a bit clumsy and two people try to talk at the same time. There are other times when no one is sure who is supposed to be talking.
It is important that, as the presenter, you stay patient with these things. Losing your cool will never help the situation and will likely cause an awkward situation for the meeting participants. If too many people are trying to talk at once, mute everyone and let them speak one at a time.
If there is an uncomfortable silence, then…
2. Keep an Agenda to Properly Pace the Meeting
The key is to keep your participants engaged to avoid an awkward lapse in conversation. The best solution for this is to lay out your agenda ahead of time so that all parties involved know the planned schedule. This way you can seamlessly move from one point of interest to another during a lull.
By letting the other parties know your exact intentions early on in the call, it can facilitate an easy flow and prevent a live communication breakdown.
3. Run your Meeting like a Presentation
You can avoid conference call silence by acting as a presenter instead of a participant. If you are relying on other participants in your meeting to fill time, you run into problems. They may be unwilling or unprepared to fill the void.
By actively filling lapses in conversation with talking points and actively moving the meeting along, it will prevent you from relying on the others for ideas. Your participants, in turn, will respect you for coming to the table with enough information to fill the void and for not wasting time.
But, at the end of the day, don’t be terribly bothered by silence. In fact, silence is often a good thing—meaning you struck chord with the person on the receiving end of the call. Now it’s your job to do the listening and to let them chime in.