Updated: May 13
To celebrate coaching’s power to positively impact people, I am offering 24 free places on my virtual workshop 'Communicating Inclusively with Remote Teams', which is already proving a hit with my global corporate clients...
There has been a real focus of late on how to establish virtual teams but as this way of working starts to become our new normal, the focus is naturally shifting from getting virtual teams up and running to keeping them moving.
So if every day is beginning to feel like Groundhog Day and you want to shift communication gears to get the most out of every virtual meeting, then this article is for you.
For while there is no dispute that the waters are incredibly choppy right now, and it is an achievement to get everyone’s head above water, ultimately you don’t want to burn too much energy just treading water and not going anywhere. Especially when it is still possible to plot a course and safely reach your next destination by switching from treading water to swimming in a synchronised way together with your team.
For me, communicating virtually during lockdown is a lot like this analogy. You can see people’s heads and occasionally their hands as they tread water, but the majority of what is going on is happening beneath the surface. Considering what we (don’t) see and what we do (don’t) say can help us become more effective and inclusive virtual communicators, which helps everyone move forwards.
Technology is amazing. When we see our colleagues' faces it really helps us feel less isolated and more connected. As the weeks tick by though and furloughing continues, we are also increasingly being asked to join teams with those we don’t know or at least don’t know so well.
While screens assist our communication, faces don’t tell the whole story and it can be easy to forget that so many of the non-verbal cues we pick up from body language are absent. It can also be easy to jump to conclusions about what we do or don’t see or to lose sight of the fact that what we are seeing is only a one dimensional snapshot.
It is not unlike last year’s holiday picture that you showed people upon your return. It was taken the first afternoon in the brilliant sunshine by a glistening pool. It looks idyllic and unless you tell people otherwise, everyone assumes it was. The reality though was it rained the rest of the week, the kids did nothing but fight and you secretly could not wait to get back to ‘normal’.
Screens always have and always will put a veneer over things. Understanding that can help us think not only about what we say and how we say it, but can also help us think of ways to encourage others to speak up and share their unique perspectives. And that might not always be via video conferencing because, when it comes to the frequency and nature of how we communicate, not everyone’s preferences are the same.
And for those who love nothing more than 'close' communications, meaning they have no trouble speaking up, that leads nicely to thinking about how to reduce the risk of your voice sounding monotone. Keep people engaged by using vocal variety: by switching up and down your speed, pitch, intonation, loudness and tone. For more on this, see my recent article 'Want to deliver a stand out speech?'
But, if you’ve never played around with your voice, a great way to explore the art of the possible is to take a piece of imaginative text and practice reading it aloud - bringing it to life - as you would a bedtime story to a child. You won’t want to speak like this on a conference call but this exercise will give you a sense of how you can use the different elements of your voice to communicate more interestingly - and therefore more effectively - online.
You’ll learn how to do this, and more, if you sign up for a free place on my new 90-minute virtual workshop 'Communicating Inclusively with Remote Teams'.
It’s an intimate learning opportunity for up to 12 people and explores three themes in detail: 1) What you (don’t) see 2) what you (don’t) say or hear, and 3) how you say it.
Consider the meaning and value of communicating effectively and inclusively.
Reflect on what might be going on for others ‘behind the screen’.
Explore the importance and depth of deep-level diversity and what we don’t see on-screen.
Think about the impact of our words and how stress, fatigue and illness can bring implicit bias and unhelpful attitudes to the fore.
Remind ourselves how body language and vocal variety can bring content to life online.
You'll leave with practical ideas to help you and others speak up in virtual meetings.
There are two dates and times for you to choose from:
Tuesday 19th May from 1:00pm - 2:30pm BST
Wednesday 20th May from 4:00pm - 5:30pm BST
To secure your free place, email firstname.lastname@example.org stating which of the two dates you’d like to sign up for. First-come-first-served. You’ll then receive a Zoom invite.
Or, if you are interested in booking this virtual workshop privately for your team and would like pricing details, please do get in touch.
I look forward to working with you.
Susan Room is a former corporate leader, turned coach. One of the rare few qualified to provide voice and executive coaching, her unique approach now sees her help others feel, look and sound confident – improving performance and happiness at work. www.susanroom.com