Digital channels will continue to dominate our connection and interaction in 2021. There will be no slowing or reversing of this transition. But wow do we remain patient and engaged through delays, screen freezes and interruptions to conversation flow as we all talk over each other? What are the consequences of longer periods of time not being able to assess subtle body cues and reactions? Will levels of social capital gradually fall, and what impact might that have on our performance, levels of happiness and overall business outcomes?
The answers to some of these questions will only become clear over time. But what we do know now is that the quality of our virtual communication can drive or deplete engagement, and that the sudden advent of Covid19 has provided a fertile test ground for a greater repertoire of techniques.
In this post we present a range of small improvements that that you can start to consider immediately. They are distilled from the research and experience of The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), and are resonant with our own experiences of designing virtual leadership and team engagements. The CCL has grouped them into three key areas of development.
“Immediacy refers to the presence, attraction, and warmth your audience perceives”
- Vary pitch, volume and pace.
- Use your hands to gesture.
- Use ‘we’ and ‘our’.
- Lean in towards the camera occasionally.
- Spend a few seconds looking straight at the camera when talking.
- Be animated and show interest and enthusiasm for your subject.
“Receptivity refers to a mutual sense of interest, openness, and trust”
- Nod. Acknowledge. Show that you are listening.
- Smile. Laugh with others.
- Be honest.
- Affirm stories and contributions.
- Set the ground rules of respect for others’ contribution.
Composure indicates a sense of calm, which confers a confidence in what you offer to the situation. When your attention is on yourself (how you look, your own thoughts) your audience will sense your distraction.
- Try not to fidget, swing on your chair, or play with items within your reach.
- Try not to be too rigid and static either.
- Work on your fluency – be conscious of too much repetition, pause fillers like um and er, and long winded explanations.
We would also suggest sending out a feedback form (Google Forms is quick and easy to use for this purpose), so that you can capture more information about how you show up online. The CCL has a virtual communication effectiveness quiz. You can access a PDF of this assessment here.
For more about the concept of social capital, and how to build it, see these articles:
Will you be investing in your virtual communication skills in 2021?