Are They Listening?

Corporate conference callers need to pay better attention, if the results of a recent study are any indication. A survey of 376 conference call participants shows that 90 percent do other things while on their calls—like checking e-mails, surfing the Web, or grabbing a quick nap.

The November 2004 study by Russell Research shows that virtual meeting participants are more engaged when video is included, says Brian Burch, chief marketing officer at Louisville, CO-based Raindance Communications, which commissioned the study. "We've found that being able to see someone has an impact on people's willingness to pay attention." And just in case, San Jose-based WebEx Communications recently created a function which lets online facilitators know when attendees have pulled up other applications on their computers.

David Demo, a partner at LHB Pacific Law Partners in Berkeley, CA, says that interactivity is key to maintaining attendee interest in his online client events. "Referring to handout materials is one way to keep them engaged."