As remote and hybrid working move from trends to permanent ways of working for many, multiple new challenges in our jobs will arise. Not only do we need to continue to deliver expected performance outputs in the midst of a pandemic, but we must also learn new technologies in order to communicate effectively with our colleagues or teams remotely.
For so-called “millennials”, this may seem a piece of cake as they were seemingly born with a phone in their hands, but for many over this age threshold, or for those less technologically-inclined, a new challenge arises: how to be an effective digital speaker.
As Microsoft Teams and Zoom are clearly here to stay in 2021 and beyond, the below is a beginner list featuring both simple tricks and digital etiquette for those of you wanting to improve your online meeting structure:
1. Welcome: I know - it sounds absurd, but how frequently do we find ourselves rushing into a meeting or worse, stressing over technical difficulties, that we forget to welcome our teams or colleagues? Politeness is never out of fashion! Take some time to ask simple questions, How is everyone doing? Even the now-ubiquitous “Can you hear me correctly?” or “Can everyone see my screen?” help to break the ice!
2. Duration: Again, it might sound obvious, but it's useful to indicate the expected length of the meeting, whether there is a structure to it, for instance, a presentation followed by a Q&A, or whether different members of the team will have “X” amount of time to discuss a topic. Be mindful with time, we all know how valuable it is for all of us.
3. What you’re going to cover: A general outline will help your colleagues understand the expected structure of the meeting. This does not have to be complicated. Points A, B and C, or 1, 2 and 3, what’s relevant, and whether other topics arise, if a breakout session, or additional meeting is required.
4. Be alive: What do I mean by this? Acknowledge the changes around you, any noises or unexpected changes in tone - you´re not a machine delivering a speech, you need to read the room, you need to know what's happening around you. You might need to take a breather, someone might not be following, someone's laptop froze, you need a drink of water to catch yourself. After all, you’re only human. If it's a topic relevant to other team members encourage them to join the conversation. The more dynamic the meeting the better, if you manage to do this, you´ll be sure that your employees or colleagues are not watching the “LinkedIn Feed” or the new viral “TikTok” video.
5. Question time and chat: check the chat (messages) frequently; someone may have dropped in a message, take note of any comments and during the Q&A, ensure each is captured.
The more you practice, the easier this becomes. Like riding a bike! If this is really becoming a burden for you, try rehearsing with a friend, or maybe a partner.
This is new for all of us, there is no magic formula, the best formula is the one that works better for you. Try various approaches. Practise makes perfect!
If you´re still curious and are looking for more specific and thorough expertise you can check my course on Digital Speaking and Camera Technique.