“Can everyone hear me okay?”
You’ve probably heard this a lot lately. With the rise of remote work, we’re all relying more on conference calls for meetings. Conversations that used to come up naturally while passing by are now planned meetings, which changes the core of how we communicate.
People who are used to relying on nonverbal cues might be struggling with having smooth conference calls. That’s why we’re sharing the best kept secret about holding better phone conferences.
The Problem with Mute
Very often, once everyone joins a conference call, they announce their arrival and then put their phone on mute. And this is understandable – aside from keeping background noise to a minimum, it feels more likely that you’ll accidentally say something to your roommate or partner and forgetting that all can hear.
Unfortunately, when everyone is muted, you lose a vital part of conversations – the response. Often, by the time someone unmutes to make a comment, the original speaker has waited long enough that they feel that no one has anything to say and moves on. Not to mention, it feels like you’re talking to a blank wall and no one is listening when you’re talking into silence without the sounds of acknowledgement you usually get from others you’re speaking to.
And losing these small verbal cues is also what causes speakers to talk over one another. In a physical meeting, there are also nonverbal cues that someone is about to speak. They may sit up straighter, make eye contact, and even open their mouth a little to indicate they want to say something. Over the phone, you lose all of this.
All of these factors combined lead to stilted conversations, missed opportunities to speak, and certain people dominating conversations that should be more collaborative. That’s why our secret to better phone conversations is: don’t mute the mics.
How to Keep Microphones On
For most meetings, ask that attendees try to join from a quiet space and keep unmuted if possible. Be understanding that this won’t be possible for many – some have children or pets that are making a lot of background noise that you’ll want to mute for everyone’s comprehension. But do what you can to get as many microphones on as possible.
Give advanced notice that you’re expecting this to be a collaborative time, and that you will be asking for a microphones-on meeting. That will give your team time to ask other people in the home to help keep the noise down and let them retreat to a quieter room. Be open to shifting the meeting time to meet the needs of the most people.
When you have a microphones-on meeting, you’ll immediately hear the difference in how many people pitch in ideas and speak more naturally. There’s something about having to toggle the mute off that makes speakers second guess if what they have to say is important enough to unmute.
Give muteless meeting a try! Let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear how this works for your team.