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Deep Listening - Impact beyond words - Oscar Trimboli

Oct 13, 2022

The Ultimate Guide for Listening on a Video Conference – Host Edition Part II of III

G'day, I'm Oscar Trimboli and this is the Apple award winning podcast, Deep Listening, Impact Beyond Words.

Good listeners focus on what's said and deep listeners notice what's not said.

Each episode is designed to help you learn from hundreds of the world's most diverse workplace listening professionals, including anthropologists, air traffic controllers, acoustic engineers and actors, behavioral scientists and business executives, community organizers, conductors, deaf and blind leaders, foreign language interpreters and body language experts, judges, journalists, market researchers, medical professionals, memory champions, military leaders, movie makers, and musicians.


You'll learn from neurotypical and neuro diverse listeners as well as neuroscientists and negotiators, palliative care nurses and suicide counsellors.


Whether you're in pairs, teams, groups, or listening across systems, whether you're face to face, on the phone, or via video conference, you'll learn the art and science of listening and understand the importance of the neuroscience

and these three critical numbers.



and 900.


You'll also learn three is half of eight, zero is half of eight, and four is half of eight, when you listen across the five levels of listening, conscious of the foremost common barriers that get in your way.


Each episode will provide you with practical, pragmatic, and actionable techniques to reduce the number of meetings you attend and shorten the meetings you participate in.


The Deep Listening Podcast is the most comprehensive resource for workplace listeners.

Along with the Deep Listening Ambassadors, we're on a quest to create 100 million deep listeners in the workplace, one conversation at a time.


How to listen on a video conference, a host perspective.


This episode is part of three in a series about how to listen in the context of a video conference.

If you haven't had a chance to listen to the overview episode, episode 101, which outlines three distinct ways to approach a meeting through


  • sequence before, during, and after the video conference.
  • The second, your role, host or participant,
  • and the third is the size of the meeting, intimate, interactive, and broadcast.

During episode 101, we did a deep dive into sequence. We explored before, during, and after the video conference. If you'd like to learn more, visit

The difference between hearing and listening is action, and the difference between reading and impact is action too.

It was great to hear the impact the guide has already made for others. Let's listen to three people who took the time to send me a message to explain the impact of the ultimate guide on how to listen to a video conference.

Lena:  Kia ora, Oscar, this is Lena from New Zealand. I wanted to thank you for a great suggestion I heard in the latest podcast on the Ultimate Guide to Hide My Own Video.

I started doing it and I'm definitely tired and exhausted after a day spent catching up with various people.

This was so life changing for me that I started sharing this step with others. Thank you.

Jeff: Hi, Oscar. This is Jeff from St. Paul, Minnesota.

I wanted to share with you what's changed in my approach to listening after reading and implementing the tips you provided in the Ultimate Guide to Listening in a Video Conference.

First, you highlight that in a video conference, an attendee can only listen continuously for 12 seconds. That particular stat surprised me and it led me to think more about how you've actually modelled this particular change throughout meetings of the Deep Listening Ambassador community to keep us engaged. You changed which camera's showing you, you changed all video to all slides. You asked questions which can be looking for vocal responses, but sometimes you ask us to reply to your questions simply in chat.

Which actually reminds me of my second application from the book. When a group meeting grows in size, consider seeking feedback during the meeting via chat.

I seriously don't think many people consider this very often. It can help prevent collisions of multiple people trying to answer at the same time while it also gives the speaker a chance to highlight and ask more questions based on an interesting response from the audience. It gets people involved who might find it easier to type their thoughts rather than vocalising them. It also gives the host a chance to reinforce responses to important material from the meeting.

And thirdly, I think about the speed at which most of us want to absorb and make changes that improve the impact of our listening in meetings that we host. The amount of time you recommend rolling out these changes from the book, it surprised me as well.

I know there are small things we can do and probably should do in the very next meeting we perform, but I also think that some people are looking for an overnight change in becoming a better host. Encouraging them to take more time and make these bigger changes is going to seem counterintuitive, but it's probably good advice when making longer term changes.

Some subtle updates can help us not shock our audience.

Natasha: Hello, Oscar. It's Natasha from San Antonio, Texas. I wanted to share the impact of implementing some of the tips and techniques from The Ultimate Guide to Listening in a Video Conference.

Some of the things I have been implementing are around preparation for when I facilitate workshops. I have a little sticky note on the side of my computer screen that says participants, and then under that it says, thinking, feeling, doing, and I've been making sure the agenda and objectives are all clear in advance.

I've noticed that I get a lot more interaction throughout the session and my introverted teammates have reached out and said they really appreciate it. I've been making sure I can see as many participants as possible at once, and this has allowed me to see when people do the little unmute to speak, but then someone else jumps in before that person has started, so then I can circle back to them so they feel seen and heard.

Overall, I've noticed three main things since I've brought this awareness and listening to my sessions.

First, more interaction in the actual sessions. I think people feel empowered before and during and then they feel seen during, so they are speaking a lot more, which is great for a lot of reasons. We have so many great minds and when they share more, we get more ideas and more insights.

Second, more people are staying after to continue the conversation with me and with each other. This has been really great and has helped our teammates connect across business units.

Finally, more folks reach out in appreciation. While it's nice to be appreciated, the bigger thing here is that people are finding a deeper value in those sessions.

Oscar Trimboli : Three great distinct perspectives from members of our Deep Listening Ambassador community. Thank you for sharing them, Lena, Jeff and Natasha. If you'd like to access the guide, visit

Today we're going to discuss the difference between listening as the host and as a participant.

The Ultimate Guide to Listening in a Video Conference is the Host Edition, and it is designed to provide for the perspective of the host. And while there are many host specific tips and techniques, as Lena pointed out, a tip as simple as hide my own video that she mentioned are just as useful when you are in the role of a participant.

Today, my recommendation for you as a host is, I'm going to outline a number of host and participant specific techniques. Please just pick one tip or one technique and apply it and practise it for at least 10 meetings until you try the next one.

To ensure you do that, I've provided the tips in sequence with the most basic to the most advanced all the way throughout our conversation today.

When you are successful at implementing these tips and techniques, you want to build a muscle that's sustainable in the way you develop these techniques. You want to be subtle about them too. You don't want to create a disjointed experience if you are used to working with the same group of people. The size of these changes are very small, and my wish for you is that your audience doesn't notice how small it is as they're coming along on the journey with you.

These techniques are specific to help you as the host to listen, and equally to help the participants listen to each other. A good meeting host will get the active speaker to be listened to, but a great meeting host will have everybody listening to each other.

As Jeff mentioned in his reflection, when he was part of the Deep Listening Ambassador Community, he didn't even realize I was using some of these techniques until he read about them in the guide.


We'll categorize today's tips into three distinct ways.


  • The first one is if you are new to hosting a Zoom meeting, if you are new to a role as a host in a Zoom meeting versus a participant,
  • The next is, look, you're a regular host of meetings. Maybe it's team meetings and you want to take your host listening orientation to the next level.
  • The third way is, if you spend the majority of your time as the host rather than a participant. If you'd consider yourself an advanced user of Zoom, that is, 80% of your meetings are as host rather than participant, then we'll provide tips specifically for you as well.
  • Let's start by thinking about Zoom meetings if you are not an experienced host. These three tips I would recommend, choose the first one and work your way up. Make sure that you think about building these techniques and I provided the simplest one first and then build on top of that.

If your role has recently adjusted to being a Zoom host, I would recommend just practizing this technique in smaller meetings, in the intimate meeting with one or two other participants.

First, before the meeting, check with the other participant or participants what they want to achieve from the meeting. You can do that with an email, a phone call, a text message, a Slack message or WhatsApp message.

Next, at the beginning of the meeting, if they've responded, just confirm and say, look, when I ask you what the purpose of the meeting is, just ask them if it's changed. Because sometimes between the time we schedule a meeting and the time we have the meeting, we want to be listening for different things.

Now, I can hear a lot of people saying, yeah, Oscar, but what if people don't respond to my message?

What if they don't reply?

That's okay. In the very first part of the meeting, I would be very specific and say, the first 5% of the meeting.

Ask this question, what would make this a great meeting?

Don't ask, what would make this a great meeting for you? Because that gives an invitation of people to be really, really selfish and they don't answer the opposite question.

The opposite question is really simple.

What would make it a great meeting for you as the host?

So when they tell you what will make it a great meeting for them, use that as a compass setting for the meeting. Then every 25% of the meeting, you can check in with them to make sure that you are on track to the purpose of the great meeting for them.

This is both a process and a setting for you and for the other person. It shows you listened before the meeting started, at the beginning of the meeting, and all the way throughout, to the purpose of the meeting, not just for you but for them as well.

Although this might sound really simple to do, it will require you to develop an orientation about the what and the how of the meeting, the content as well as the process.

This will move your attention away from yourself and them towards a third position. The third position, that's the announced outcome of the meeting.

What would make this a great meeting?

Keep practising this during intimate meetings, at least for 10 meetings, until it feels like it's second nature for you and for the perspective of your attention.

By the way, if you are a participant in a meeting rather than the host, and if your host isn't clear about the purpose of the meeting or the process about decision making or prioritization in the meeting, take a moment yourself as a participant in the first 5% of the allocated time and ask the host,

What would make this a great meeting?

This will get them to pause and you, without the formal title of the host, can ensure every 25% of the meeting that it stays on track.

By the way, our deep listening research, it highlights that when a host or a participant asks this question, what will make this a great meeting, only 28% of participants ask the host the same question.

So about a third of participants will ask the host the exact opposite question.

The other part of the research that's important is when you are asked this question, either before the meeting or at the beginning of the meeting, and you check every 25% of the meeting, respondents said, meetings are completed in less than the originally scheduled time. Isn't that a wonderful thing to get some time back in your day?

Next, if you're slightly more experienced as a meeting host, possibly you are someone who regularly hosts a team meeting, a project meeting, a work in progress meeting, some kind of interactive meeting where there's three to 20 people present, move your orientation from, how do I get the participants to listen to the active speaker to how do I get the participants to listen to each other?

As Jeff mentioned earlier on, humans have very short attention spans and they get distracted very easily. On a video conference, you can listen continuously for 12 seconds.

And equally, participants can maintain continuous attention on a topic, on a context, for between eight and 10 minutes.

If you're discussing a topic, you can hold someone's attention in that range eight to 10 minutes. As the host, how can you change the context or the format of the meeting every 10 minutes?

And this is something Jeff mentioned earlier on in his feedback that he noticed that I did that during the Deep Listening Ambassador community meeting.

This has got to do with more than having multiple speakers presenting. This has got more to do than just changing the active speaker. It's got to do with moving the mindset of the participants from listening to the active speaker to listen to each other.

Here are the three tips I'd recommend for you to help to change the perspective, the attention of the participants, to ensure that they're not only listening to the speaker, but they're also listening to other participants.


  • Number one, use the reaction buttons in Zoom.
  • Number two, use the chat.
  • And number three, look at the polls.


A lot of people say they lose body language and other nonverbal signals, which makes listening harder. One way around this is to ask for nonverbal feedback via the reaction buttons. It helps you to listen to the energy while the rest of the group can notice the energy of their fellow participants as well.

The reaction buttons, there's a vast range of them. There's not only thumbs up and thumbs down and various other signals. There's a range of emoticons that people can use there. Don't underestimate the power of that to communicate the level and energy of the group.

Next, let's talk about the chat. Use the chat to discuss what and how when you're having a discussion.

Questions you might like to pose include,


  • who else do we need to consider?
  • where would you like to focus the remaining time?
  • wow should we decide?


Whenever you're asking these questions, keep them as short as possible. Less than eight words makes the question neutral. And that's not to say that a neutral question is good or bad. It may be appropriate in the situation. I see a lot of time working with my clients, they have convoluted questions that not only confuses the audience, it requires clarification.

Non-biased questions, typically less than eight words.

You can also use chat to explore metaphorical or emotional ideas. You could ask people,

  • what colour does this feel like?
  • what drink does this feel like?
  • what food does it feel like?
  • what book does it feel like?
  • what movie is it like?

They can describe abstract topics that you've just covered off where the group isn't clear on an outcome because the idea's evolving.

Simply asking, what colour is it now, compared to what colour is it at the end of an agenda item, you might notice that the colour changes or it remains the same.

It doesn't matter. It's just a signal to nonverbal feedback.

Whether you use chat or reactions, this requires limited to little preparation for you as a host.

Poll slides, they require a little bit more planning or a little bit more effort to create. When you use poll slides, use that when making decisions or creating priority.

Some example questions that can help focus the participant is,

  • what's your number one priority?
  • how should we allocate these resources?
  • which group requires the most support?

Again, in terms of building and sustaining this listening orientation, focus first on increasing your consistency and effectiveness with reaction buttons, then move up to chat, and then finally, you can explore the polls.

At this intermediate level, all the techniques are helping you as the host to listen, and all these tips are transparent for each participant.

They'll be able to notice not only you as the host and how you are listening, but they'll be able to listen to where the rest of the group is, where the other participants are in the workshop, in the meeting, or the video conference.

This last group of techniques is for experienced Zoom hosts.

Are you hosting more than 80% of the meetings that you attend? Then I'd call you an advanced Zoom host.

These techniques are designed to listen to the audience before a broadcast meeting. It will help you adjust content accordingly, and it will help you to display to the audience that you've listened to them.

Whenever you are speaking to an audience of 50 or more people in broadcast mode, you can use these powerful techniques to change the listening dynamic for you and the participants.

A lot of my clients are surprised how much listening you can do beforehand. That has a massive impact on the engagement during a broadcast meeting.

If you are doing a broadcast meeting, I would recommend utilizing the registration features, either in Zoom meetings or Zoom webinars.

Each product allows you to pose questions for the participants on registration.

These questions could include,

  • what's one thing you'd like to improve?
  • what's one thing you'd like to ask the presenter?
  • what's one thing you would like to learn?

All these questions are deliberately designed to be open ended.

Equally, they're designed to be easily collected, collated, sorted, and displayed to the audience in an anonymous way in the first 10% of the broadcast.

It shows to the audience you heard and you listened to them. Displaying the anonymized results increases audience engagement at the start of a presentation as they search for self-interest.

They're looking for their responses in your presentation.

Equally, it not only helps them selfishly to find themselves in the content, it also helps them understand where the rest of the audience is.

Break down these responses into easy to digest components. It may be basic, intermediate, advanced. It may be before, during, and after. It may be small, medium, large. It may be inexperienced, experienced, and master.

When you break down the responses and provide signposts while you answer them throughout the presentation, it automatically signals to the group, ah, they're listening to me.

When you answer the questions throughout your presentation, make sure your signpost that you are answering some of the really common questions the group asked during registration processes.

This technique creates a completely different level of engagement and experience for the audience.

It makes it memorable.

Meeting hosts are often shocked how much engagement this simple technique drives when you present their own content back to them.

There you have it. Whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or advanced, the 105 page Ultimate Guide to Listening in a Zoom Conference is full of techniques like this for you.

Whether you're a host or a participant, as Lena mentioned earlier on, you'll get enormous value out of the guide. To find out more information, visit

I'm Oscar Trimboli and along with the Deep Listening Ambassador community, we're on a quest to create 100 million deep listeners in the world, one conversation at a time.

And you've given us the greatest gift of all.

You've listened to us.

Thanks for listening.