Co-authored by Samantha Stone and Maribeth Ross
It’s not business as usual.
Your buyers have gone into survival mode. They can’t think about what they might need in 6 or 12 months because they are trying to process what they might need tomorrow.
Your values as a company are being put to the test. As leaders, it’s time to ask, “What do you want to stand for?” and then go out and be that voice.
But we also know that you are living through some practical challenges. In this post, we tackle two of the most urgent changes our community has had to overcome.
Living Your Best Remote Work Life
Caution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has led many employers to institute remote work policies. This means meetings that are typically held face-to-face need to be conducted via phone or videoconference. (Yes, you still have to wear pants, but they can be comfortable ones.)
It’s normal to be a little leery of working remotely, but know you are in this together.
Every time you get on the phone to talk your dog will bark. It’s OK, we love dogs. Just show them off and keep going.
Your children (roommate, spouse, nosy neighbor) will interrupt you. No one cares right now. Hug them, show them off, or turn on annoyed-parent mode and tell them to bugger off in front of us. It’s all OK.
When your home and work life are mixed physically it’s easy to mix them emotionally. Set a schedule for yourself as you would going into the office.
If you’re like me, you will either go all day without eating or eat all day. I go back and forth! Do what your body tells you it needs.
Last, but perhaps most important ALWAYS use video for calls. The connection you make on video is so much stronger than just the phone – and contrary to popular belief you don’t have to be fully styled or have a fancy office backdrop to use it.
The following are some best practices we’ve learned from conducting business via video over the years.
- Choose your medium. If given the choice of videoconference or phone, choose videoconference. Research says that 55% of communication is body language, while another 38% is tone of voice. The added element of visual interaction allows meeting attended to read body language, which goes a long way in building and maintaining relationships.
- Consider the type of meeting you are hosting and plan your tools wisely. For a meeting to transfer information, you will likely want to share your screen. If it is a working meeting, you may want to share a document collaboratively, either using a program like Google docs or sharing your screen and capturing items as others say and agree to them. For a large meeting, consider encouraging everyone to use their video camera and the conference technology’s grid view (like the Brady Bunch) so they can see each person in the group.
- Record meetings and share them with the invite list. This allows everyone to look back if they need to refresh their memory and can be helpful for folks who weren’t able to make it get up to speed – and added bonus of going virtual!
- Break the ice. Start the meeting with some personal chat with the team and make sure that everyone at the meeting knows one another. Broker introductions when they don’t.
- Set an agenda. Make sure each meeting has an agenda and time constraints around the topics on the agenda. It all helps to create ground rules with the team on how meetings are to be conducted if this is not a standard practice in your company now. Frequency of breaks, whether folks contribute at will or speak the meeting leader calls on people if cameras should be on at all times, and expectations around muting microphones are all topics that should be reviewed with the team.
- Avoid the temptation to instant message/slack too much. You don’t need a meeting to video chat. If you’d normally pop by someone’s desk to ask a question, check-in on an update or otherwise connect with your co-worker – initiate the video chat.
Operation transform your in-person event
In our lifetime we’ve lived through turbulent times, but never before has it been on a truly global like we are seeing in the battle against COVID-19 spread.
Today, Samantha saw a Facebook ad for a newly launched professional workshop to be held in person. Don’t be that person.
When the world is physically isolating, it’s time to get creative. But it’s not enough to just take your existing agenda and speakers and host a broadcast. We need to get creative about how we mimic some of the engagement in-person events offer.
Not all providers of virtual events are the same. It’s important to find a technology partner who can deliver your goals and vision for your virtual event. Selecting the technology early in the planning process ensure you can deliver on your plan. Considerations include:
- Do you require distribution technology that can store and broadcast content to audiences both locally and globally?
- Would you benefit from an e-commerce space for your content?
- Do you need to integrate with social media or other ways for the audience to interact, such as chat, Q&A, or built-in “reaction” capability?
- Do you want a polling mechanism?
- Do you need virtual rooms for breakout sessions?
- Do you need the solution to ingrate with other technologies, such as your marketing stack for promotion and follow up?
To make the transition from in-person to virtual, your content needs to adapt. Keeping the attention of a virtual audience requires compelling content and a two-way conversation. Adapt content to allow for audience involvement in the form of online Q&A, polls, or even quizzes.
Switching up the speakers makes things more dynamic. Consider interviewing an attendee, or get a large group involved in a dynamic chat room. The goal is to get presenters and audiences to have the most intimate relationship possible.
Use more visuals. Different than a face-to-face meeting where it is customary to spend a while on a slide, for a virtual presentation you need to stimulate your audience more often to keep their attention. This means you will need to introduce variety in a visual format.
Speakers at a virtual event should go the extra mile to keep the audience’s attention since the lure of multitasking will be constant. Since speakers don’t have the luxury of physical animation, they will want to adapt their delivery to leverage fluctuations in their vocal tone and volume. Speakers can amp up their sessions by having a contest, competition or even a prize drawing during their session.
As you will have some kind of online exchange, be it chat or Q&A console, you will want to appoint a host to ensure that the conversation is kept lively and interactive. The host monitors the online activity throughout the session, being friendly, engaging and encouraging participation from the audience. The host will acknowledge questions and comments throughout the event or session for which they are assigned.
If you get a significant number of questions, be prepared to take them offline. You’ll likely need to limit the number of questions asked so that they can all be answered thoroughly. If there is not enough time to address all of the questions, announce to the group that you will do follow up via email after the session is over.
While a virtual event may not have been your original plan, the outcome can be just as successful with the proper planning and adaption.
And perhaps most importantly, have an IT pro with you at the rehearsal and during the live event to deal with any technical glitches that occur. As you know, nothing disrupts and distracts from a virtual event more than a technical glitch.
And if after considering all of these factors you don’t feel like you can create a truly compelling virtual experience consider redirecting your event program dollars into other types of customer outreach.
A message for our friends, that’s you!
Sometimes you just need a safe place to talk. You need to express your anxiety, to run an idea by an objective outsider, to vent, to get advice. We are always your safe space. Please feel free to reach out and schedule a time to talk. We’re listening.