On the Onlinefacilitation list, a question came up about good resources for telephone facilitation. A number of articles were found, but nothing really complete. So we thought, why not build a wiki book? This is our first attempt. If you would like to join it, let me know. (We are working on //Google Docs//, o leave me an email - nancy.white at gmail dot com or comment. Or offer any suggestions in comments if you are reading this in Nancy's Blog - I decided it might be useful to blog this when Beth pinged me today asking for the URL.)

What would we want to write about facilitating groups on the telephone? Let's brainstorm some general categories first. We can decide later.

Here's our starting point. Feel free to spawn off new pages if you want to dig into any one bit.

Telephone calls for groups in:
  • meetings
  • project management teams
  • learning events
  • guest speaker presentations
  • orientation or closure for online activity/event
  • networks
  • presentations/pitches

Teleconferences support processes of:
  • decision making (convergence)
  • problem solving/conflict resolution
  • fun/play
  • relationship building/orientation
  • brainstorming
  • teamwork
  • knowledge sharing
  • information delivery

  • Planning calls
    • Integrating with other media and modes of communication (online, face-to-face, presentation media and print resources).
      • Providing a "jumping off" point --where people can look up the details if they're lost
      • How to integrate visuals -- either prepared in advance or generated during the call
      • Collecting topics from asynchronous discussions (email lists or web boards)
      • Posting audio recordings or notes so that they support asynchronous interaction or give people who couldn't make it to the call a sense of belonging
    • Identifying roles in advance
      • Facilitator or master of cermonies
        • When to speak, frequency, but not necessarily amount of speaking
      • Having a "greeter" who arrives 5 or more minutes early to welcome people as they arrive helps them orient socially
      • Having a "tech person" who can help people (say, by means of a chat room or IM if they have difficulties)
      • Designated presenters or speakers who are experts in the topic
      • Having a note-taker (say in a chat-room, that also supports the "tech person")

  • Building sociability and relationship on group telephone calls
    • Ways to help visualize people and ideas in an aural environment
    • EEKim - Shared Visual Display
    • Going beyond introductions - what can help build relationship, sense of individuals and of the group?
      • Vary intro topics to fit the actual topic of the call
      • Don't have to do everything on one call
    • Intercultural and language issues
  • Norms and agreements
    • Practices around who is speaking (i.e. say your name before speaking - not everyone can hear voice differences)
    • Practices around directing comments to an individual vs to the group
    • Staying on schedule/agenda
    • Practices for groups with accents and/or using a second (3rd, 4th, etc.) language
  • The call
    • Joining/leaving call practices
    • Turn taking practices
    • Phone call break out practices (smaller group, return, etc. process and technology)
    • Using chat as back channel/note-taking
  • Recording calls
  • Follow-up
    • Completeness of record-keeping
    • Immediacy -- the sooner the better
    • Preparing for online interaction or future calls

Potential FAQ's
  • How to use silence in phone calls (silence, bells, sounds, etc.)
  • What to do with distracting noises, on-hold music and other PITAs (process and technology based solutions)
  • Issues around size of group (what size is the max for full participation of all? When do you move to a different model? tool?)

Resources - Other useful articles on the net about telephone facilitation

Contributors to this Resource: