If you’re like most people today, you are facing a whole new set of challenges around how to manage your workload, share ideas and build relationships while working remotely. It’s not just about the work. You will also have to learn how to maximize socialization between your boss, colleagues and customers.
Having delivered hundreds of virtual workshops, I have found that remote workers are likely to be less engaged. Whether it’s a team meeting or one-on-one dialogue, capturing their attention and participation will require more than just words. You will need to invest in new personal competencies that do not show up in your job description. Your success will depend on how you engage with others, how you manage virtual first impressions and how you build your credibility in different virtual settings.
Here are four tips to set the stage effectively and increase your impact. I will be delivering more tips over the coming days.
1. Control your Vocal Impressions with a smile: Where you can, connect visually with video conferencing or apps like Zoom or Skype, since this is by far the best way to encourage and develop rapport, trust and camaraderie. If you are not able to use video to see other peoples’ faces, you still should stay mindful of how your vocal projection will be perceived. In both cases, smiling is the answer. It’s the fastest and most universal technique for projecting warmth and approachability, not only face-to-face, but also through your voice. Research shows that smiling triggers audible changes to the human voice, which is called an auditory smile.
Your listeners will always hear and interpret nuances in your tone. If you are feeling stressed or emotional, it will be obvious in your voice.
More now than ever before, it’s important to discipline yourself not to react immediately or to succumb to the nervousness or stress you may be feeling. Pause, breathe, and ask deeper questions. Give your team members a chance to talk and to ask their own questions. This will give you time to compose yourself, smile, and then deliver solutions and ideas in a voice that fully reinforce your leadership style.
2. Manage your participation: The biggest engagement threat in virtual meetings is when participants take on the role of passive observer. If you’re typically the outgoing person in social settings, you may feel you need to take over in your meetings, particularly when there are too many observers. Be sensitive to more introverted colleagues who are not naturally comfortable with small talk or speaking up. Take the initiative to ask others for their perspectives. If you are hosting a meeting, have a printed list of participants and check off those as they speak. In this way, you can encourage dialogue by calling on others who have not yet spoken.
Some introverts may not like to talk out loud. Consider giving them a “back channel” in the form of a private text channel for them to make their comments. Many conference apps like Skype offer this, but you could also use your phone’s texting/SMS feature for this purpose.
3. Find opportunities to celebrate: Connecting through remote technologies should not be a strictly formal occasion. Take the time to recognize promotions, birthdays or the completion of a project. Ask team members about their home office setup. Recognizing others at the onset of a virtual meeting sets the stage for a positive beginning. Given that people are feeling disoriented and overwhelmed by COVID-19 statistics, small wins should be highlighted as frequently as possible.
4. Personalize your relationships with the right communication strategy: Those spontaneous hallway discussions or customer bonding lunches won’t be possible for a while. To enrich your relationships, schedule conversations with customers, business partners and your boss. Ask the following questions to demonstrate that you want to ensure you honor their preferences for communicating. This will absolutely differentiate you from others!
|1. Receiving Information||What’s the most effective way to communicate with you?||What’s the least effective way to communicate with you?|
Lots of detail/lists
|2. Giving Information||What’s your favorite way of giving information?||What’s your least favorite way of giving information?|
Lots of detail/lists
|3. Timing||When is the best time to communicate with you?||When is the worst time to communicate with you?|
|Time of day|
On the fly
To quote my dear friend, Linda Ferguson
“We aren’t shut away. We are stepping away, rich in connections and a desire for making a safer environment for everyone. As we close the doors, we can open our minds to our connections and our growth.”
p.s. If you are interested in customized virtual training in executive presence, communication, leadership and remote teamwork, please reach out to email@example.com to set up a call.