Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Sound of Silence

The end of the year is always a great week to pause. It's the one time of year when the frenzy of life and work slow down just a bit, after the holidays have passed.  Silence, indeed, can be golden. 

Conversely, the sound of silence during a web conference may be uncomfortable, but that silence is important, and worth getting used to.  When you post a poll, type a question in the chat box or ask a question verbally, the facilitator should pause and give the audience time to respond. Some silence is okay and web conference facilitation doesn't mean the facilitator has a license to conduct an un-ending monologue - that's pure "sage on the stage".  Rather, when you ask a question your audience needs a few seconds to process the question and think of a response or review the poll response options to determine how they will respond. If respondents will be typing their response they will need even more time to respond. Resist the urge to jump in and break the silence - let your participants fill the pause instead.  The majority of the time you will be pleasantly surprised when your participants chime in with their ideas and thoughts.

During this holiday week I am also resisting the urge to break the silence - albeit weakly.  Hope you get some time to do the same.  Happy Holidays!


Peggy Mengel said...

Excellent point, Darlene. It is tough to hear the "silence" but your audience does need time to think. And, remember, the web conference is all about your audience, not YOU! As the presenter, you do have to carefully prepare your questions. Be sure you are asking the RIGHT ones!!

Darlene Brady Christopher said...

Good point..if you are asking irrelevant questions the silence may mean that the audience has tuned you out. That's another great reason to practice with a mock audience to make sure your questions, polls, etc. make sense before posing them to your real audience.