I hate meetings. But I found myself in several today, covering several walks of life. One of them even had a phone contingent on the line, from more than a few locales. I happened to be with some other people in the same room attending the meeting, but I witnessed a sad communication side effect to having phone attendees. The people in the room who spoke acted like there was no one else present. They talked to the ceiling and the speakerphone, but basically ignored those who were there in the flesh. It was not limited to just one speaker, and it’s not isolated to this one incident. I’m not sure why people feel compelled to retreat to their own little world when a remote listener is on the line, but it seems to trigger that.I think that remote communications (webcasts, TV, web conferences, phone conferences) are some of the most challenging communication situations we face. The lack of feedback and inability to connect with anything other than voice really makes it tough. But when you have real live people at your side, don’t go into remote mode and forsake them. In fact, if you continue your eye contact and methods of good communication to those present, those who can only listen in will benefit from a more passionate and expressive message. The same is true if you’re speaking to a live audience but trying to entertain a TV or taped audience as well. Playing to the live group will make both groups more connected.
Don’t ignore a live audience for a remote or delayed one.