More and more people are talking about the reality of going back to work. What does that mean? What will it look like? While on one hand we can celebrate the light at the end of the tunnel and the chance to return to what we are calling the new normal, on the other hand lots of us are experiencing anxiety at this next phase.
Issues that are coming up include how will we agree social distancing? What is okay in terms of boundaries? Will I be expected to go straight back to networking? What stories, narratives, tragedies and difficult emotions will I and others be bringing back to our workplace?
Many of us face these anxieties or at least the thought of them coming soon. While the uncertainty continues, this moment is also a wonderful opportunity to press reset and to make some conscious choices.
Going back to the workplace after such a long time gives us all the chance to make some clear choices around our behaviours and intentions. We have a chance to make a conscious and a positive new ‘first impression’ and set the tone for how we want to be and be seen from now on. So as well as acknowledging the challenges ahead, we can also grab this moment and get excited by the new page we are turning; start writing ourselves a new chapter. Here are some thoughts and tips on how you can take care of your own well-being and re-launch into this new phase with energy, self care and positivity.
1. Engage the platinum rule…
We are all different and this is an important time to respect our own choices and those of others and that they will be different.
2. Look behind…
If people make choices that you don’t like try looking behind the choice for challenges, anxieties and reasons that may inform their decisions. We are all different and we are all complex. Look behind for the wider story to connect to others with empathy.
3. Re-launch your brand…
This is a wonderful time to make that new first impression. You can choose that first moment of impact and set a new tone for who you are in the workplace.
4. Micro moments…
We are all bringing a lot back to the workplace. You don’t have to empty your year of narrative in one go. Take it easy moment by moment and keep it simple with a ‘good to see you’ or a shared coffee break. Your Covid experiences suitcase can be unpacked slowly and you might even choose to leave some things safely tucked inside.
5. Big boundaries…
Use this reset opportunity to set the boundaries on your time and stress levels that perhaps you always wanted to set. You, your team, your colleagues and your workplace will be more focused than ever on well-being. Use this moment to make sure you take care of yours.
How we can help
The 4D team can really help you take charge of your energy and well-being in all 4 Dimensions. Focussing in turn on your: Physical, Emotional, Mental and Relational wellbeing. Our impactful and practical 4D Energiser Program has just the right tools, insights, care and fun to help you, your team and your organisation re-activate the well-being, creativity and energy that will make 2021 the game changing turnaround year, that you can all be proud of.
Treat your team to the 4D Energiser Program, now! Only ONE hour a week, for ONE month, to ensure a super-charged and successful launch into the year ahead.
Saying it all, without saying a word… Have we forgotten part of our language skills in the online world?
“You say it best when you say nothing at all…”
It wasn’t easy, but I have indeed managed to start this month’s newsletter with a quote from Boyzone (bear with me readers!) Now whilst I am admittedly a fan of 90’s pop music- and even more so of the film Notting Hill where this song featured – there’s rhyme and reason for the reference. When we think about our communication, how we are going to prepare for a speech, presentation, interview or difficult conversation – we tend to focus on the words, content or the script. And yet we know that as human beings over HALF of what we ‘say’ is not what comes out of our mouths. It comes out of what we say with the rest of our bodies. And this is still true if we are practising social distancing or communicating in an online world. Even though perhaps we may have lost sight of the impact of our bodies in our new world of virtual communication. So, this month it’s time to get physical – and we don’t mean pulling on leggings and going to the gym (now that they are open!). Join us this month as we delve into the intriguing and often underestimated world of Body Language.
I speak for each and every one of you when I say you are highly developed, highly intelligent, sensitive, self-aware creatures (I would expect nothing less from our fabulous readers!). And yet… all of us- at our core- are animals.
As animals, we have some basic survival instincts -food, safety and continuation of our species. These instincts existed way before our modern language did and yet somehow, we managed to communicate with each other – and not only survive- but thrive. We had to be very good at not only at signalling our needs and fears but also reading them in others, even when no words were spoken. In our era of modern language and high-speed communication, we have sophisticated and subtle means and methods of communicating. And yet, the hardware of who we are as human beings remains unchanged.
In Paul MacLean’s 3 brain model, our reptilian brain was the first part of the brain to develop and is responsible for protection, safety and non-verbal communication. So, whether we like it or not (or are aware of it or not) we still use our non-verbal communication to provide a wealth of information. AND we are always being read and interpreted by others, based on the non-verbal cues we project. So, imagine the powerful impact we could make every day if we consciously communicated- not only with our words- but with all of our being.
“It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.”
– William Bernbach (1911–1982), American advertising creative director
So, what about our posture? Well, it’s often something we only think about if we have to go to an osteopath or chiropractor due to back pain. However, an Ohio State University study (2015) showed that holding a slumped posture for 30-minutes could significantly increase stress levels, depression, and fear. On the other hand – maintaining an upright posture can result in greater confidence and lower stress levels. Bear this in mind particularly if you are now working remotely and are sitting for much of the day. Our health and mobility are important, and… let’s keep in mind that there is so much more to our posture and how it is serving us. Looking at a number of studies, evidence suggests that our posture matters more than company hierarchies in terms of making a person think and act more powerfully!
Why is this? Well going back to the caveman… a slumped posture – (head dropped and rounded shoulders) would have been a demonstration of “flight” (fear/submission) posturing and can have a very real neurological and psychological impact on our systems. So, next time you are in a meeting or virtual meeting, even if you are feeling nervous you may want to try this:
1. Sit forward on your chair or stand up and either way – with feet apart and firmly grounded on the floor
2. Shoulders back
3. Chin up/not too tucked in
You may be amazed not only by how you feel but by how you present yourself and ultimately by the words that come out of your mouth. As we say here at 4D, it all starts with the physical…
I recall going through some rather draining legal proceedings a few years back. As anyone who has experienced this will know, it can be intellectually overwhelming and emotionally draining. I recall those feelings and the sense of not having any control or power (a core human need). But one thing I could do was get a hold of was how I showed up: how I behaved and interacted physically. So, I made a conscious and deliberate decision to maintain a strong, grounded posture with shoulders back and head held high. It was incredible to notice how different I felt and also, how it changed the verbal language I used and the way other people responded to me. It was a game-changer.
“Isn’t it odd. We can only see our outsides, but nearly everything happens on the inside”
– Charlie Macksey
Proxemics explain how people treat the space between them and others. It’s a form of nonverbal communication and the distance of the proxemic can make situations either intimidating or acceptable. And what we find acceptable, varies from person-to-person, when it comes to our personal space.
As animals, we have a sense of what physical proxemic feels acceptable and what feels threatening. As you can imagine, smaller animals than us have an even greater sense of this hidden dimension – anyone who has a guinea pig or rabbit will know that it can be hard to catch a sight of them. Yesterday, I was at my sister’s house and I was determined to catch a glimpse of her new guinea pig – Manuel. So, I crept into the room his cage was in. He remained static until I came within 1 metre. and then – boom, he bolted. It was almost like I had tripped a tripwire that caused him to scurry at breakneck speed into his little guinea pig house! Animals’ bodies respond to their intuition and signal their levels of discomfort. I had entered his ‘intimate’ proxemic and all of his body told him to run. Sorry, Manuel!
As human beings we are no different and understanding how to use your space and reading others’ space is crucial for creating the right connections and leaving a good impression. Many of us feel this only too acutely at the moment with the emotional distance that can be created by the extended proxemic of social distancing. It has an impact! And whilst we need to be mindful of keeping our distance to keep our communicates safe, we would do well to recognise there is an impact on how we may make each other feel as well as look to compensate for the distance through other body language strategies.
The 4 Levels of Gesture
Research has demonstrated that in everyday interpersonal communication people spontaneously generate images via hand gestures to accompany their speech. In this way, they help to encode the speech into the listener’s memory by utilising two cognitive aspects: words and images.
The physical act of moving our arms and hands generates energy within our bodies. The higher the level of gestures we make the higher the level of energy we release. But there is also another hidden effect of gestures involving the brain. Psychologists Rizzolatti and Arbib (Language Within Our Grasp 1998) discovered that when we perform an activity, such as gesturing, we activate motor neurons in the brain. Curiously, similar neurons are also activated when we merely watch an activity. These are called mirror neurons.
When we watch someone moving, mirror neurons fire off in our brains and we not only witness a gesture but also experience and feel the gesture in our minds. Watching gestures- or any movement- literally creates an energetic reaction in the brain. This is why watching people dance or sing can be a contagious and emotional experience- and we may feel compelled to express ourselves too! This suggests that gesture can expand the effectiveness of our communication, by improving cognition, opening up different levels of meaning for the listener and also, by boosting energy levels (for both the speaker and the listener).
So how can you utilise the power of gestures: By using specific gestures to accompany your speech you can:
1. Appear more confident
2. Feel more confident
3. Enhance your communications
4. Raise not only your energy but also the energy levels of those who watch or interact with you
Increase the vocabulary available to you in the moment (research shows that restricting hand gestures makes it more difficult to find the right words.) I often hear comments from people I work with that working remotely limits our ability to use our gestures and whilst there is some truth to that, we are still #always at choice. Push your computer screen back so that you give yourself a wide frame on screen from the chest up (or better still stand up) and get those arms on camera!
Eye contact may seem an obvious element of our physical language, but we can all too often be unaware of where our eyes may be focused and how we may be impacting others. Eye contact can demonstrate in an instance – respect, appreciation, interest, understanding confidence, engagement, making people feel connected and important. AND it can suggest fear, nervousness, disinterest to name just a few. Now that isn’t to say that removing eye contact is not sometimes useful. If you want someone to stop talking or if you have a consistent tricky ‘challenger’ in your audience – gently removing your eye contact after a few seconds is often a great way to change the dynamic.
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said”
– Peter Drucker
Create your New Norm
We are responding cognitively all the time to the signals and signs our bodies give us. At the same time, we are also reading other peoples’ body language – perhaps even more than the words that come out of their mouths. And other people are doing the same to us. Over our lives, we have built up patterns of body language. But we can choose to change those behaviours that aren’t serving us anymore. Of course, when it comes to breaking patterns and creating new ones, practice makes perfect.
So – whether you have been consistently working in a face-to-face environment or are soon returning to an office or communal place of work – at 4D we want to encourage you to think about your body language. Trying our new or unfamiliar ideas (such as taking a stronger posture, smiling more than usual or using higher arm gestures) may feel strange at first, but over time, this new pattern of body language will become your new normal. A part of who you are and how you communicate. And…
…don’t imagine that if you are primarily interacting and communicating in a virtual environment that the ‘language’ you are speaking with your body doesn’t matter. On the contrary – it matters even more! Three top reasons to focus on your body language even when in virtual meetings are:
1. Because your mind-body loop will be affected by the physical position and gestures that you choose to do. Remember your body is constantly sending messages to your brain! So your impact even on the phone is affected by how you sit, stand and physically behave.
2. Quite simply, connectivity and communication ARE harder when we’re not face-to-face. So why not use ALL the tools at your disposal to really land your message, build great bonds, influence and communicate with impact.
3. If on a video call no one else has their camera switched on – stand out from the crowd. What a gift to leave an even stronger impression! TURN YOUR CAMERA ON!
What is your body language saying about you?
You can find out more and sign up for our newsletter through our website as well as check out the 4D articles, podcasts, videos and online training programmes. If you’d like us at 4DHB to help you engage your audience, get your messages across online and have some fun…do get in touch.
4D Human Being – helping leaders, teams and individuals consciously communicate with impact every day.
Of course at 4D Human Being we pretty much believe this to be true and whilst (strictly speaking) there are other things in the world aside from communication (), we truly believe that communication is core to who we are and the experience of life that we are creating for ourselves and one another. So no small thing!
And yet, why is it that so often we don’t communicate, or feel that others fail to communicate with us? This can be because literally no communication occurs. And it can also refer to communication simply not landing in the way we/others intend – and so what takes place is ‘miscommunication’. We could write a book (actually a library) on why communication is important and the skills and tools we can use to be better communicators. But this August Newsletter will not be a book. Instead, we want to offer one focus to help us step in and communicate and to be better communicators. And that is…
…that communication is relational. So join us as we release the focus from ourselves as ‘individual communicators’. And we shift the arc of focus to the relationship – to the audience (or our partner!) to create a different experience of what communication really is.
Why is Communication Important
Any list of ‘top required soft skills in the workplace’ will certainly have communication skills at the top or very near the top. These skills are critical to our success and the success of our organisations – never more so than at the moment – whether collaborating across organisations during the pandemic to save lives or as is the case for many of us working hard to sustain business performance across teams and customer bases when working under challenging economic conditions and doing so virtually. And aside from the professional benefits of strong communication, let’s not forget that research suggests that in our personal relationships, it is effective communication that we struggle with the most and is the #1 reason for relationships breaking down (John Gottman Institute).
We can tell ourselves that the reason to be a great communicator is to effectively transfer information from one human being to another. And whilst this is true – and has been critical to the survival and development of our species, communication serves so much more. Communication enables us to create, build and nurture relationships with other people and to create shared meaning in our lives. And when that becomes the focus of why and how we communicate, well… we are entering a whole new ball game.
Why it Fails
There are many reasons why communication either doesn’t take place at all or it fails for some reason. One way to think about why this might be the case is to consider where is your focus of attention? Think about the last time you needed to have a difficult conversation or perhaps get up to present in public or even participate in an interview. It’s likely that any preoccupation prior to the ‘communication’ would have been focused on you. Will I do well? Will I say the wrong thing? Will I forget something?
And if this is the case then several things may be happening, such as… We may want to be ‘right’ We may be fearful of looking stupid or being criticized or attacked We may choose language that focuses on our own needs/opinions We may not listen We may end up trying to avoid having the conversation We may (consciously or unconsciously) be preparing counter-arguments for why the other person is wrong
And so the list goes on.
As a business owner occasionally I do have to step into some difficult conversations and back in the day when I was younger, and working in the corporate world, I sometimes would prepare a lot for such ‘encounters’. However looking back now, my ‘preparation’ was undoubtedly attempting to secure me in some of the above positions. Rather than focus on a true two-way communication.
Communication is Relational
Communication is so much more than words and information. It’s relational. Communication creates, builds and transforms our relationships with everyone from our family, friends, colleagues, boss, clients and anyone from the postman to the slightly grumpy neighbour!
So with this in mind, where is our ‘arc of focus’? Think of an arc stretching from you to the other person/audience and if THAT is where the focus is, we can transform how we communicate and how we feel about communication. And transform our relationships.
The arc of focus and The Big B
It takes effort (in all 4 dimension – physical, emotional, intellectual and intentional) to remove the focus from ourselves and truly focus on other people. As the novelist Zadie Smith recently pointed out on a podcast interview (The Adam Buxton Podcast ep.130) – when she met Tom Hanks, she thought what a kind and generous person he was and how he is so outward facing to everyone he meets. This is a generous thing to do and can have an enormous effect on other people. But as she also pointed out, it takes practice and it can look an exhausting thing to do for any length of time, especially if that focus of attention in communication is not reciprocated.
So, accepting we are not all perfect and selfless beings. And we are not even all Tom Hanks, what can we do? How can we shift our arc of focus to the ‘other’?
One thing to consider is to craft into your communication the benefit to the other person of what you are saying/offering. It sounds obvious but so often we can forget and we can communicate just from our own perspective – with an unconscious emphasis on what WE want. Build in the Big B (benefit) upfront and not only are people more likely to listen, but the communication is also much more likely to be relationship-focused.
Our gestures say so much about where we are operating from and whilst gestures such as pointing fingers, folded arms, exasperated shrugs all perhaps have their place and… we can choose to use our physical gestures to engage relationally when speaking. Or even when being silent.
For example, open arms and open palms is a universal sign of ‘peace and openness’ and demonstrates empathy and a willingness to be open and that we are not hiding anything. This simple gesture can have an enormous impact on the neurochemistry of the person standing in front of us.
One of the most impactful examples of this that I find personally is when I manage to find myself in my more ‘conscious’ parenting state and respond to tantrums or anger from my kids with a simple open arm gesture. It doesn’t always work (and let’s be clear I don’t always find that it’s my first response!) but I am constantly surprised at how often it does work. It calms the situation and opens a new line of communication, where my child intuitively feels that I am open to hearing their viewpoint or underlying needs.
The Listening Vase
Emotionally we can boost our empathy by listening rather than talking. Not only does this help people feel heard but as the listener you are more powerful than you perhaps think! Not only in terms of shaping the conversation and landing the communication – but with the added bonus of simultaneously focusing on and building the relationship. If you feel that communicating your message is all about you talking, think again. Think of someone else’s words as the liquid and you as the person listening is the vase. Depending on how you listen, facial expressions, body language, attitude, concentration, focus, you will be shifting the shape of the vase and how the message is finally formed. At the extreme of course – if you stop listening, the speaker will finally stop speaking!
The 2% Truth
“I have one major rule: Everybody is right. More specifically, everybody — including me — has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honoured, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.” ― Ken Wilber If we enter into conversation wanting to be right or to win it’s unlikely communication will truly take place or at least not land in a way that makes it effective. We each have our own truth and whilst we may not hold ourselves out to be perfect, flawless and always right, we do fundamentally have a viewpoint and a belief that is important to us. And of course… that is true of every other person on the planet. So… Intentionally, how can we hold both our own truth and also that of others? Without entering a battle or fully conceding? The answer is to understand that we are all partially right.
One way to practice this mindset is to enter a conversation knowing that whatever the other person says there will be at least a 2% truth in what they say… This small % means that we can hold our position/opinion as our own truth AND we can also allow space for the fact that the other person’s opinion or point of view even if vastly different to our own could at the very least hold a 2% truth even for ourselves.
Many of us may sometimes have conversations around the current pandemic and there are many differing opinions out there. I and many other people have for example travelled abroad recently for certain reasons (e.g. me – to collect my kids from their dad’s house in Italy). Yet some of us may question why people are travelling abroad at the moment especially when quick changes in quarantine measures could arise at any moment. My mind wants to leap to many defences of MY choice to travel abroad and yet taking a breath, perhaps I don’t need to justify my reasons. Perhaps I can be true both to the many thought-through reasons surrounding my decision, careful choices I had made, and how I had managed the trip cautiously – whilst also recognising that yes there is also a truth in mass movement not being ideal at the moment. Neither of us was fully right or wrong. There is truth everywhere not just somewhere.
The information you need to share (whether in a personal or professional relationship) is important to you and potentially important to others. And yet your communication does so much more than transfer information from one human being to another. You are creating a connection (Communication-ships!) between yourself and other human beings – in every moment. And if that is our focus every time we go to communicate, what might we change and… what might we create?
Whether it’s personal impact, leadership, team performance or organisational change – coaching can be completely transformational both for the individual as well as for companies. And plenty of organisations recognise the incredible value great coaching can bring. At 4D we are passionate about bringing life-changing and leadership-changing coaching to more and more individuals and companies around the globe.
However, we live in an ever-changing, super-paced, busy world in which the contexts around travel, team schedules and leader availability can change in a heartbeat. The good news is that online coaching and development via online tech can be more than simply a substitute for face to face coaching programmes. More and more coaches and coachees are finding smart and creative ways to work together online. Even counsellors and psychotherapists are finding that working at a deep, intimate level around sensitive and vulnerable issues with clients can be highly effective when undertaken online. When thinking about taking on a coach, whether you are working on your personal growth as a leader, your impact as a speaker and presenter, your communication skills as a manager or your network and career progression as a valuable contributor to your organisation – building a strong coaching relationship online can tangible and outstanding results.
Here are four reasons why you might want to turn to online coaching to take your career, personal or leadership impact, company culture and performance to the next level:
When working online you can work from the comfort of your own home or the convenience of your own office. It means you save on valuable travel time which means you can maximize your development and learning time.
When scheduling and working online it means you can be far more flexible when it comes to rearranging a session or the amount of time you might spend on a call. Once trains and planes have been booked and paid for it can be challenging to rearrange coaching sessions at the last minute so by cutting out the travel you immediately embed more flexibility into your coaching programme. On top of this most coaches, if working face to face, may charge a minimum fee of one or two hours. Which locks most face to face coaching programmes into traditional length sessions. Whereas when working online you might schedule a quick 10 or 20 minute session with your coach when your diary gets squeezed. Allowing you to have that all-important touch point and check-in, even when the pressure of your working day is squeezing your timetable.
By choosing to work with a coach online you are also giving yourself the gift of choosing from the best coaches in the world. By working virtually there are no limits to who you can partner with to help you succeed. If you have seen a coach speaking online and loved what they had to say, if you have read an inspiring piece by a coach or if you follow a coach on social media who works in the specialised field you are keen to explore – whether they are based in Boston, Bali or Blackpool – this is your chance to drop them a line. Nothing is stopping you working with the pick of the international coaching crop from the comfort of your own couch.
4. Modelling Leadership Impact Online
As a leader or manager you will be spending much of your time holding and participating in meetings, exchanging updates and idea sharing via conference calls – particularly at the moment when travel is limited. Another advantage of doing online coaching is that your coach gets to see you and your leadership impact online and so can get a real-world sense of how you relate, interact and make an impact in a virtual context. Meaning that they can help you adapt and develop your style to maximise your leadership impact across the web and across the globe. So that you as a leader can then model a conscious, impactful, present and engaging online leadership style to your team and people. Which is the beginning of the ripple effect for the culture of virtual communication you will create across your organisation.
As teams and tasks go more and more online, as business and briefings increasingly take place virtually, and as community and communication happen more frequently over the world wide web, a great online coach can be the partner and support that makes the world of difference to your personal, impact, professional success and your organisation’s journey. If you’re interested in exploring powerful and bespoke online leadership coaching with 4D Human Being do drop us a line and we can talk about how virtual coaching and development will take the impact and performance of you, your team and your organisation to a whole new level.
When you can’t physically bring your people together for your business conference you can still bring your business conference alive – and your people together…virtually.
And while a great tech platform is important to host your conference, the key to making your event engaging, impactful and memorable depends on the human host running the show.
With increasing pressure and restrictions around business budget, organisational travel and employee health and safety many companies are looking to run large scale events through virtual online streaming services. So how do you ensure your event, while virtual, is still energising, motivating and connecting? There are plenty of articles out there about the tech, timing and troubleshooting of hosting virtual conferences. To help you make sure the timing of your event is aligned for all the time zones you are dealing with. To ensure you have the appropriate technology and bandwidth to run your online sessions and finally to check you troubleshoot for potential process and platform glitches before you hit the live button.
YES…that’s all super important…AND…for us at 4D Human Being most conferences fall down once all these things have been checked, once the go-live button is pressed and then the energy drops to zero. Because even if you have the best platform hosting on the market, if you don’t have the right kind of ‘human hosting’ leading your conference, it’s all too easy for your virtual audience to switch off, drift away and go and do something less boring instead. Hosting Virtual Conferences requires a specific skill set, and drawing on our unique background in performance, acting, improvisation, TV, film, directing, storytelling, online training and coaching, here are our five top tips for giving your virtual event the wow factor – big on engagement, high on impact and unbeatable on online experience.
1. Navigate and Direct
Whether you are choosing to hire an expert host or using an in-house presenter, make sure your host is skilled at working online. People can be much more easily distracted when attending conferences remotely, so your host needs to navigate your audience through the agenda in a particularly concise and clear way. Tell your audience exactly which segments are happening when and what you will be expecting from them at various points through the schedule. Finally, keep them hooked in by letting them know the sections further down the line that are simply NOT TO BE MISSED. That if they drift off to grab a cup of coffee they may just miss the golden nuggets that are coming their way. Assume FROM THE GET GO that your audience will WANT TO SWITCH OFF OR leave the room and THAT THEREFORE IT’S UP TO YOU TO set a clear intention from the start to keep them glued to their seats
Also, be more directive with your hosting. When you are hosting live in a room with your audience you can ask more open, general or rhetorical questions and you can get away with a looser format as the energy in the room can fill the gap. But when it comes to hosting online events you need a host that understands how to clearly and tightly navigate your audience and be more directive with posing questions to guests or attendees. You can still, of course, have fun, engage and get people enjoying themselves, but you need to keep the event structured and scaffolded along the way. So instead of “Has anyone got any comments?” Try asking “Let’s hear one comment from each of you on that.”
2. Get Great Audio
While we as human beings are highly visual creatures, research reveals that the quality of your audio will influence whether your audience finds your content and messaging credible. “When the video was difficult to hear, viewers thought the talk was worse, the speaker less intelligent and less likeable and the research less important,” scientists wrote. So, when hosting a conference online we need to ensure our audio is as good as our visual equipment. If not better…as some people can actually tolerate poor video quality more than they can tolerate poor audio quality. Double the reason to maximise the sound quality of your virtual event.
3. Get Interactive
Hosting on the internet can still mean hosting interactively. Running a conference online doesn’t mean leaving your audience flatlined. Your host can still give your audience members a highly interactive experience. Pairs exercises and thought-provoking conversations and games will inject your sessions with the dynamic energy you are looking for. Making your virtual event highly memorable and practical. Your host can run short interactive, experiential exercises designed specifically for small remote working groups or individuals at their laptops at home. Meaning that a virtual conference can still feel truly connecting, intimate and personalised.
4. Energy Energy Energy
We are definitely obsessed with energy at 4D Human Being and when it comes to working online our obsession becomes fanatical! Your virtual conference host needs to be used to working on camera and needs to understand the power and dynamics of ‘Host Energy.’ Being a host in a live arena requires energy, but hosting online requires energy PLUS! The reality is that the camera sucks away 20% of your energy. So, as a virtual MC and host you need to up your energy level higher than you think might be necessary. It may only be one camera in front of you but it’s not one person…it’s one camera and hundreds or thousands of people all feeding off your brilliant hosting energy. And it’s your job to ensure your hosting feels connected, energised, personalised and really reaches into the offices, living rooms and workplaces of your attendees.
5. Feedback Loop
One of the most exciting things about hosting virtually is the opportunity it presents to create an instant feedback loop with your audience. Most platforms and tech include the possibility for your audience to do things like vote, chat and message the host and organisers in real time. This means that you can create a truly global and ‘live’ experience. Make sure your host has excellent improvisational skills and has humour and courage at their fingertips. Because then, they can flex and flow, incorporating comments and feedback into the conference in real time. Which simply put…for your audience…looks like genius.
The impact of the Coronavirus will be felt by all of us. Most importantly those people whose health will be affected. As an asthmatic, I watch the news with the same concern as many of you. Let us hope that the actions taken by governments and each one of us will save lives and get us back to normal soon.
There seems no doubt that the current situation will also accelerate the adoption of business tools for remote collaboration and communication. Indeed, we have seen our friends at Cisco offer free Webex licenses to help people stay connected during this challenging time.
This technology was already growing rapidly as a result of increased cost pressures, environmental concerns and the continuing improvement in what video conferencing and unified comms are capable of.
But are we making the most of the investment we have made?
For five years I worked with the irrepressible Mark Grady at Google, a superb team at Tech Data, and some terrific resellers to help build a B2B channel for Google’s video conferencing platform Hangouts Meet. We were also lucky enough to spend time collaborating on G Suite, which transformed the way our team worked internally, with partners and customers.
It’s clear that every major technology company has recognised this space as a huge opportunity – the large platform players like Cisco, Microsoft and Google have been jockeying for position for some time with Amazon’s Chime and Facebook’s Portal, Whatsapp Video Calling and Messenger gaining traction too. And that’s before we get to the other players like Zoom, Go To Meeting and the list goes on…
The immediate challenges business is facing – trying to keep employees productive, maintaining relationships with customers and partners, whilst also protecting the health of valued colleagues – is likely to see the requirement for remote working and Video Conferencing jump up the priority list for IT Directors and other Lines of Business leads.
My Linked In timeline is certainly busy with thought leaders and technology companies offering their perspectives on how businesses can meet the challenge.
What few people are talking about however is that, when it comes to successful virtual collaboration, it’s not enough to install and understand how to use the technology – we also need to get far better at understanding how to ‘be’ on a video conference call to make it successful.
What effect do we want to have? How do we want to make people feel? How can we maximise our personal impact to connect with people over video? How can we run a successful and productive virtual team meeting where people leave the call more motivated than when they joined it?
Like everyone else who has spent any time working in large corporations I have had my fair share of soul-destroying calls – the ones with no energy, no clarity of purpose and the ones where it feels most people are answering their emails…
At 4D we have been working with leading players in the technology sector for many years delivering a wide range of coaching and training courses centred on communication between human beings. We have seen the demand for how to maximise impact and improve the effectiveness in the virtual space grow enormously in the last few years.
We are continually asked:
How do we ensure that our attendees are engaged?
How do we keep the meeting focused?
How do we ensure that everyone understands the meeting’s purpose?
How do we use the visual and audio technology to best effect?
We have developed a series of online programmes focused on exactly these problems. These provide delegates with an opportunity to think about the energy they bring to virtual communication, the atmosphere they are trying to create and how to be more conscious of the way they guide meeting attendees through a call.
Whilst the courses are very experiential, we’d love to share some of our top tips with you here:
1. Cameras On! – so much of our impact is in our facial expressions and our gestures. If you remove this you are reducing your impact by a huge amount (perhaps more than 50%). If your company, or that call, doesn’t have ‘camera on culture’ you can be the person that makes an even stronger impact!
2. Framing – once your camera is on, be aware of the framing. How much of you is visible? What height is the camera set at? Would a separate webcam be helpful? How is the lighting? Is there a pile of washing behind you…?!
3. Navigation – are you helping to guide people through the call, being clear on what they can expect to get from it? Are you providing an agenda? Are you creating a positive, engaging atmosphere? What expectations of the attendees have you communicated to ensure that they will bring something to the call and not simply be passive observers?
4. Energy – at 4D we are energy obsessed! We talk about it all the time because it’s absolutely crucial in our interactions with other human beings. One of the biggest challenges on VC is the energy gradually dropping out of the call, with a lack of interaction and a feeling that people are becoming disengaged. In a virtual meeting, the energy of the host is crucial – we often need to use more energy than we think if we want to maintain high energy on a call – it can feel strange to push more energy in when the camera is only 50cm away from you, but it can be the difference between a call that keeps people engaged and one that leaves people drifting away. We use a couple of very simple tools to help hosts maintain their energy and the energy of the attendees.
Whatever platform you are using to equip your teams with the right technology to work remotely if you’d also like to ensure that your teams are trained in the best interpersonal tools and techniques to get the most from their fellow human beings, do get in touch with the team at 4D Human Being.
Whether through face to face workshops and training or via virtual coaching and webinars, we help leaders, teams and individuals consciously communicate with impact every day.