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    Entries in teleconferences (3)


    The ultimate in remote and distributed collaboration

    When I'm running facilitation training programs and I gather a bunch of 'concerns, questions, challenges' at the start of the day, many people raise the remote hookups and telconference topic.

    Whether it's a video hookup or audio only, there are plenty of tricky challenges:

    - how do you keep people engaged

    - how do you KNOW if they're engaged

    - how do you achieve what you need to do in the time available

    - how do .... <insert your challenge and question here!>

    I am an occasional listener (wierd as it may be but thanks to my father's careers and keen interest in all things mechanical) to the Air Traffic Control feed of my local airport in Melbourne. 

    Think about it - hundreds of people flying through the air at speed in the airspace above you, in big metal tubes, with a couple of people 'up front' in control of the metal tube. 

    On the ground, air traffic controllers observing, managing and directing traffic through and around the airspace. 

    I think this is the ultimate in remote and distributed collaboration and communication. 

    Heights, speed restrictions, approaches, departures, angles, gate allocations, weather advice, wheelchair requirements for passengers (yes, they arrange this in the air) and many other key pieces of information are communicated, resolved, discussed and arranged with some, but not full visuals. 

    Shorthand, codes and abbreviations are used as part of their operational jargon. It's efficient.

    Questions are asked by pilots - 'can we cancel our speed restrictions'? And they are answered by air traffic controllers.

    Controllers ask questions of pilots - 'can you use runway 27 or do you need 35'? 

    And problems are solved - 'our headset for arrivals transmission is not operational. Can you relay please?'

    If day in and out these critical pieces of information are able to be encoded, communicated and decoded in what can be perilous environments, a phone or video hookup with the team in another city shouldn't be so hard!

    • You must allow more time than you think you'll need for the topic.
    • Allow for time to introduce, engage, map out the agenda, take questions.
    • Allow time for problem solving, information sharing and collaborating.
    • Allow time for general discussions and 'wonderings' by participants too. 

    In your haste to get 'stuff done', you might be communicating some messages you had no intention of conveying! The consequences could be far reaching and the rework may be costly and time consuming. Check understanding - check again for questions. 

    Play air traffic controller at your next remote meeting and focus on clear communication and great collaboration. 

    And now... tuning in to the feed, the massive A380 is coming in to Melbourne from LA. QF94. Now that's a BIG project to get on the ground safely!

    A view from the tail camera on board the A380, coming in to land in Melbourne from LA. 



    I hear what you're saying. Oh really?

    Teleconference, phone hook up or remote meeting: the bottom line is, you're talking but you can't see each other. 

    You can't see facial expressions, body language or pick up on those many subtle cues that the stars of Lie to Me were so clever at identifying and deciphering. 

    But you do have your ears. 

    And you need to tune those ears in with greater attention than you do in a normal face-to-face meeting. 

    I outlined in an earlier post that you have voice tone, volume and speed to listen in to and to notice the subtle shifts and changes. This is powerful when you can see people in a workshop or meeting, but even more powerful when it's all you've got on a phone hookup. 

    I think it's the best 'test' of whether someone is REALLY listening - you go beyond hearing the words that are spoken and are able to pick up on the delivery, how it is said. Then you can go from there - you can ask another (better) question or you can check, clarify and go deeper to work out what might not have been said. 

    Listen up folks! This is the listening you need to put to work everyday to make sure you really do hear what people are saying. 


    Hello... is anyone there? Teleconferences with Outcomes

    I prepared a quick e-book for a client today who needed some simple guidelines to shift the way her team run teleconferences. 

    This is not about the technical set up of invites and booking rooms and all that hoo-ha. 

    Rather it's about a few principles the team can follow every time they are connected by the phone line. And we've only been doing that for 130 years - so no wonder we sometimes need to revisit a few of our techniques!

    For her project team, she wanted to break the belief that : just because people can't see each other, doesn't mean you can't take visual notes or use a flip chart to capture the conversation. You can send it after the meeting. 

    Additionally, her team's meetings were 'rush-fests'. Everyone rushing in and rushing out. Not enough focus on clarity. Clarity saves time in the long run. Clarity trumps speed. So s-l-o-w down; allow time. 

    So I share a few tips to help you get some better outcomes from your phone hook-ups too.