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.

Matt Beresford

Writer, Speaker, Facilitator and Coach at 4D Human Being
Matt combines a wealth of corporate IT experience with a career as a theatre director.He brings to his 4D clients his passion for performance, human development, team dynamics and individual coaching. He is passionate about bringing exceptional communication skills to organisations in a fun, tangible and sustainable way.
Matt Beresford

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