When Silence Isn’t Golden: Keeping Teleconference Participants Engaged
By Nancy Settle-Murphy

Posted October 25, 2009

You ask a critical question that you had imagined would have inspired passionate conversation and spirited debate. Instead: Protracted silence. What do you do?

Here are some suggestions:

  • First, check that you or someone else has not been disconnected from the conference call.
  • Understand what’s behind the silence. Silence can indicate different things: distraction, lack of understanding or simply people taking the time to think.
  • Check for understanding, then ask the question again. Be comfortable with the silence.
  • Give your own input and then encourage input from the others.
  • Call on someone you know is vocal to break the ice. Also call on people that are shy about speaking up.
  • Ask for a check-in. Have the participants describe how they are feeling in one word.
  • Explain that you are going to go “around the room”, asking each person in turn to respond to the question.

Posted by Nancy Settle-Murphy