An audio conference call can be difficult for participants to fully absorb. Research into human communication styles tells us that adults do better at remembering information when it is received in more than one way. This is a challenge for a speaker in an audio conference call, because people remember only about 20 percent of what they hear, 50 percent of what they both hear and see, and 80 percent of what they hear, see, and do.
Therefore, here are some tips you can use to prepare for a successful audio conference call.
Pay Attention to the Sound
First, be sure that your audience can actually hear all of what is said. At the beginning of the call, ask the participants to verify that the call is clear and has a high enough volume. If there is a problem with the quality of the sound, get it corrected before you continue.
Second, be conscious of speaking clearly and slowly. Without visual clues to help them, listeners will miss words that are slurred or buried in a swiftly moving sentence. Also be sure to use a fairly simple vocabulary. A more complex vocabulary slows the listeners’ processing of your words, and can result in them missing some of what comes after a “big” word.
Create Real or Virtual Visuals
Third, try to provide written handouts in advance of the audio conference call if possible. Giving the participants an outline of some sort to follow along with will act as a form of “seeing,” and will enhance the retention rate of the material you present.
Fourth, include rich visual language, descriptions and anecdotes in your oral presentation. Again, you are trying to create the illusion that the participants are seeing some of the material, which will aid in their retention.
If you can’t show them the product about which you are talking, take the time to give a thorough description of it. Don’t merely say the “new Z-model DVD player.” Say the “new Z-model DVD player is expected to do well. Let me tell you a little more about it. The shape is designed to conjure up the image of a 1950’s era alien spaceship, with coloring that shifts between silver and lustrous black as you move around it . . .” You are trying to help them, with your words, construct a picture of the object in their mind. An audio conference call can be full of visual stimulation if you do it right.
Fifth, build into your presentation small acts for the participants to do. For example, you can highlight an important point by suggesting that they write it down on their handout, and then say the point again. It’s a simple exercise, but the act of moving their hand to write down the point stimulates a different part of the brain than the one in use merely for listening to your voice, and this again aids in retention.
You can also, at different points in time, ask them to consider how this information will be useful in their own work projects, or request that they share parts of the presentation with others in their department.
The audio conference call is a staple of business life, but it is not always the best way to communicate new information. Advance preparation with the tips above in mind, though, can go a long way toward the success of your audio conference call.