The other day, I was listening in on a teleconference and teleseminar that had to do with nanotechnology for aerospace materials. It was rather in-depth and discussed the future of fuselage construction, and the capabilities of these new materials which would be 250 times stronger than steel, and 50 times lighter. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there were only 15 people listening in on the web-assisted phone call teleseminar. I assumed by the way it was marketed that there would be 300 or more people from all over the world listening in – but that wasn’t the case.

Today, I was talking with a fellow think tanker about that situation over coffee. He indicated that this was quite common, and he even explained some of the tricks that people do to go out of their way so no one knows there is no one else on the line. He told me that he had been giving teleseminars previously, which their marketing department did a very poor job with, and there were only two or three people on the line. They didn’t tell anyone, and they made it sound as if there were many more people. He explained some of the strategies they used to hide that fact.

One thing he explained to me was that it was very easy to ask those listening to send in their questions via e-mail, since everyone was already on the line watching a PowerPoint Presentation at the same time. Then, if the two or three people each had two questions, they made it look like everyone was asking lots of questions, and the people asking the questions were quite happy to have their particular questions answered. He indicated to me that it was important to over-complement the individual on what a great question they’d asked, and that he needed time to sort through all the questions that came in.

And he also told me that he would make an excuse that he had to go somewhere else and his time is very valuable and that he was so sorry he couldn’t spend more time with everyone. And those are a couple of the strategies he explained that are typically used during Low listener Counts. I thought to myself that it almost seemed like misrepresentation, but no one lied to the listeners. And perhaps if the listeners realized that no one else was interested, they might not be tuning in either, and therefore they would miss the information.

In explaining all this to me he said that it’s much easier to give the teleseminar when there are very few people listening, even though all the equipment handles it. He said he felt less stressed knowing there were only a few people listening, then if he knew there were 500 people on the line. He said one time there were 172 people on one of his conference calls, and he admitted to me that he was quite nervous knowing this fact.

And he suggested that people who are new to teleconferencing, and giving teleseminars, should start out with lower listener Counts until they felt more confident. Indeed I hope you’ll please consider all this and think on it. Perhaps you have some stories to tell or find interest in this ethical debate in the sector?

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