Virtual Communication – YOU are your communication (Part One)
Virtual communications have never been more important than right now, in our COVID19 world. This could be informally with friends and family, or increasingly, in our business context. What is certain, when we return to ‘normal’, it will not be the ‘normal’ that we were used to. This seismic shock that we are experiencing in the context of our everyday lives will shape the future. It will never be the same again.
On that sobering thought, and given that we all need to learn to use the virtual context in a way that helps, not hinders our communication, in this series of articles, I look at some of the ‘quick wins’ – simple things that you can do to significantly improve the way you come across when communication through the ‘little screen’.
You are your communication
We are taught that communication is principally formed of three elements – the words that we use, how we use those words, and what we do whilst we are using them. Here’s the thing though…how often do we pay real attention to all three of those elements? We may consider what we want to say, but often how we say it and what we say whilst we are saying it ‘just happens’, without conscious thought.
Now, consider that our tonality (the how) and our body language (what we do) accounts for the vast majority of the message that is received. (and that’s what we don’t pay so much attention to). Can you see the problem?
How much responsibility do we take for our communication?
What’s the point, here? Most of us do not take responsibility for our communication – we expect that people will ‘get’ what we are communicating because we have communicated. In reality, communication is what is understood, NOT what is ‘transmitted’. Add in the ‘receiver’s’ filters and opinions (another big subject, for another time), and you can see the challenges you have, even in face to face communication.
Oh, wait, we cannot get face to face, right now.
In our COVID-19 world, the need for us to communicate effectively has never been greater. Living in relative isolation means that the human need for contact is even more acute than ever…and the need for us to do business remotely has become a fundamental part of our everyday lives.
OK, so what can I do about it?
There are some simple things we can all do to make this work as well as we can right now. Here, we will concentrate on YOU. You are the communication…and therefore in the virtual context, we must take responsibility for that.
Here are some ideas:
- Amplify: You need to not only pass through people’s personal ‘filters’ to get your message to land, you now need to battle with technology, webcams, screens, microphones and speakers. So ‘amplification’ is a great mantra to remember
- Amplify your language; a-r-t-c-u-l-a-t-e more clearly that you would normally, use language that is easy to understand, and speak concisely and with certainty – choose what you want to say with care and consideration for your audience, speaking to be understood
- Amplify your tone; remember that tone adds meaning. Consider how you can use volume, pace modulation and pitch deliberately and choicefully to re-enforce the sense of what you want to say
- Amplify your movement; remember that often your image on screen will be small, especially if you are sharing other content. Make sure you fill the screen, and you use deliberate and controlled movement that supports your messages and know that facial expression needs to be clear so that the appropriate emotion is conveyed.
- Stand Up; It is said that if you are making an important phone call – stand up. This wisdom has been taught for years…never more than now is this true. In the context of an ‘important’ meeting, especially, where high-stakes communication needs to happen, when you are stood, you have so much more that you can give to your message; your energy levels will be higher, your lungs will give power and range your voice, and your movements will be freer and more deliberate. Find a way to get your ‘device’ (laptop, phone otherwise) up at your eye level…look down the lens and mean what you say.
In ‘You are your communication: Part Two’, we will look at simple ways you can manage your ‘virtual environment’ to maximise the impact of ‘you’ as the communicator.
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