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Life Online - Do you read me?

I wanted to write a little something about the state of things. The pandemic that has swept the world has altered how we live our lives. Many of us are working from home or isolated from colleagues and that means conducting all of our conversations online rather than in the flesh. As I meet with you online for training, coaching or events I collect stories and feelings that help me to help you.

So what are we all struggling with? Today I want to focus on the little things. We can't pick up subliminal signals from our audience - the shift in an impatient body, the glance of a time-pressed eye, the intake of breath before an interjection. These tiny social signals are vital to having productive, collaborative conversations. And the magic of the internet cannot transport all of these to our eyes and ears effectively. We are left largely to guesswork. "I think I should stop talking now". "Maybe I'll throw them a question now". "I should speak faster for this bit in case they are bored". "I need to spell this out three times because maybe they didn't get it the first time".

It is a lot of internal second guessing and trial and error. And... It. Is. Exhausting. So how can I help?

The dream scenario is something like this:

i) have people listening attentively when I need space to speak

ii) have them contribute to show me they are invested and thus buoy up my own energy.

iii) make an impact that inspires action and cuts through the fatigue of endless online meetings.

The first steps to success:

i) position your camera and chair so that people can see more of your body language. This simulates an in-person meeting and shows more of those signals that you are confident, committed and capable. We listen with our eyes first!

ii) turn off your slides and tell your audience you would like to have a discussion on a particular issue. You can do this multiple times during your presentation - you are in charge! Then direct questions to individuals on the call. This encourages everyone to bring their full focus and keeps overlaps and tumbleweeds to a minimum.

iii) Impact takes planning, preparation, energy and imagination. Imagine how your audience will be feeling and decide how you can change that for the better. Construct your presentation around this "feeling" goal. Eg. They are feeling overwhelmed. I want to make them feel calm and reassured. We may not remember exactly what you said or what you did but we will remember how you made us feel (credit to Maya Angelou for this mantra!).

Until next time


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