Conference Calls and Operator assisted conference calls is similar to other types of meetings in trying to prepare for audience questions afterward. It is important to know the topic well, understand the audience’s learning needs or motivations, and use carefully-designed cues to elicit questions that allow the topic to be further explained. There are several ways to prepare for audience questions.
1. Presenters should try to understand who the audience is. Many speakers will request participant information ahead of time to better target the presentation. Age, educational background, company position, and registration purpose can give the speaker valuable insight regarding those who will be in attendance. If this information is not readily available beforehand, operator assisted conferencing is helpful in getting registrants logged on by stating each person’s name and position. Writing notes about those who may be interested in certain parts of the presentation will enable the speaker to tailor material to those needs, which is likely to engage the participants and perhaps lead to questions afterward.
2. Online meetings typically come with an agenda. Becoming familiar with the agenda and orienting the presentation to specific items will help participants recognize the relevance of key information and be more likely to follow up afterward with a request for details.
3. If the venue permits, it is a good idea to solicit feedback from participants during the presentation to get them involved. Asking for opinions or examples is a great way to get the audience to apply information personally and professionally. As they forge links to the material and the speaker, they will feel more involved in the program, which can help to encourage follow-up questions after the presentation.
4. Connecting the presentation information to participants’ objectives in being there will necessitate applications to their job situation and prompt questions related to the process of integrating the material.
5. Pre-distributed handouts can encourage questions. Outlines with blanks to be filled in means the attendees will need to record information from the meeting. Occasionally some blanks may require further discussion before being filled in. Thought-provoking questions stated by the speaker or listed in the handout may likewise be instrumental in getting people to ask questions of their own.
6. Bringing extra material or sample questions like FAQs often encourages audience questions at online meetings. After covering the topic, if no one asks questions, it may be helpful to include another point or two to ensure that everyone fully understands the material and is not feeling overwhelmed or disinterested. “Another way to look at the problem…” or “Here is an example some of you may find interesting…” are attention grabbers that could affect someone directly aside from the general overview of the topic. Posing FAQs can get the ball rolling as attendees listen to Q&As and begin to think of their own questions. Another great way is to create a few commonly asked questions – and mention webinar participant asked through the chat and answer the question to the entire conference call. This will get the participant to start engaging and asking questions.
Above all, it is important to keep the material interesting and relevant. The coordinator of an operator-assisted conferencing call may have suggestions to help the speaker address points that will be meaningful to the audience. Being prepared with a thoughtful approach, knowing something about the audience, and tying the material to attendees’ interests will likely spur questions that lead to greater participation and insight.