This is a guest post by Kaya Singer. Suzanna returns from Europe on November 3rd. Meanwhile, please enjoy these very helpful posts by online professionals.
When I first jumped into the world of telephone seminars, I naively thought it would be the same as any other workshop I had facilitated. I was wrong. I’d been teaching face to face for years, so I knew how to hold group energy and keep people involved, however I hadn’t realized how much my teaching style was dependent on interaction between people and processes that were not easy to accomplish via the telephone.
Even with these challenges I was surprised at how quickly people bonded with each other on the phone. In no time they were sharing as though they’d known each other for years.
In my recent seminar, 8- Parts to Growing a Real Business, I developed a simple pie chart with eight blank pie pieces. I made sure people could download this form off my website. During the class, people filled in the pie pieces based on their responses to questions I posed and then shared their responses with each other. People were engaged, involved and easily shared what their pie chart looked like. I am now investigating the idea of people taking a picture of their pie chart and being able to share them on a class website. I felt I had discovered the means to bring creativity and interaction into telephone teaching.
So I happily cruised along thinking smugly that I had the whole telephone seminar gig under control.
Not the case. We were beginning the second week of a four session class on Money Flow for micro business owners. One student didn’t show up. I thought it a bit strange because I had just talked to her on a private call, only minutes before . Ten minutes into the class I received a frantic e-mail from her saying she couldn’t get on the call. The access number wouldn’t work. She didn’t know what to do.
I had to stop the class as now I was distracted. I shared the problem with everyone and said that I was at a loss as to what to do to get her on the call. This technical glitch was seemingly out of my control. I was relieved when one of my students figured out a solution. He had three way calling, so he put us on hold, called her and brought her in on his phone.
After the class, I called the conference call people to find out what had happened. They attempted to give me the whole technical gobbledy-gook about signals passing through internet lines. I actually just wanted to know how to fix it or avoid it happening again. Here are the main two points I gleaned from this conversation plus one of my own.
1. They suggested that people not call on Vonage, cell phones or other VOIP type phone systems. ( unrealistic)
2. If people do have an internet based phone system like cable, then they suggest that they may need to press the access key numbers very heavily to increase the tone length.
3. I attempt to record every call just in case.
I have now included these points into the pre-call e-mail. In my gut I know this problem will emerge again, but this at least gives me some semblance of control over the situation. Telephone conferencing may eventually be totally replaced by web casts but technical challenges are here to stay.