Here we are. Our new reality for the next few weeks (or months). A whole bunch of people working from home, some super-comfortable conducting business online, others lacking critical skills to manage virtual meetings. But business must keep moving. Salespeople must hit their targets; managers must lead their teams, and analysts must communicate their data. How can remote teams – with or without a pandemic – thrive online?
How to be nimble and confident in a virtual environment
Many of us feel awkward, unprepared, and blindsided when we try to share content or even have a conversation online. It’s easy to lose control without the familiar interaction and non-verbal communication we get in live meetings. But there are plenty of well-tested methods and tools that pros swear by that will help you plan, design, and deliver influential meetings and presentations.
Here are three ways to thrive in a virtual environment:
1. Create a Two-Way Dialogue
Web presentations tank for two main reasons: your audience is bored, or you are not responding to their needs sufficiently. Want to know the way to prevent both of those potential pitfalls? Keep people interacting with you and with each other. Web conferencing platforms are loaded with tools to promote interactivity – launch a poll, ask for chat responses, activate a Q&A session, etc. These tools keep the conversation lively and provide critical feedback (for you) during the session.
Am I going too fast? Is this content resonating? Are they still with me?
A warning… you should always use these tools intentionally. It’s much more effective if you know which tool will encourage feedback that will keep you tuned in with your audience. Speaking of being “in tune” with your audience, let’s look at the value of storytelling in the virtual environment.
2. Tell a Story… with a Framework
The purpose of nearly all business communications is to produce a decision, whether big or small. And we know from neuroscience, decisions are based on both logic and emotion. The absolute best way to establish this potent, decision-driving combination is by weaving your facts, data, and ideas into a story. To do this well in a virtual environment, you need a story framework. Using a framework allows you to organize information, develop a BIG Idea and stay nimble, no matter who’s in the audience. It also allows you to be highly responsive to questions. And if you lose your audience at any point, you’ll be able to get quickly back on track.
3. Build Decks Expressly for Virtual Delivery
Visuals are the lifeblood of any great virtual presentation or meeting. Science tells us that the human eye (and brain) process visuals much faster than text. And, in an environment where you don’t have the benefit of body language, visuals can make or break your presentation.
Slide decks for virtual presentations should provide a guided, logical flow that consider every moment of your presentation. Rather than verbally transitioning into new sections of your deck, try adding a “visual pause” that signals to your audience that you’re moving on. It doesn’t need to be overly designed—it can even be as simple as a slide with icons or oversized text. This also provides an opportunity to ask for questions, solicit feedback, or bring your audience back into focus. These strategies can help you deliver a seamless message, whether it’s something formal or quick and casual.
Let’s Up Our Online Behavior
Learning to plan, design and deliver for the virtual environment makes a huge difference to keep audiences attentive, work flowing smoothly, and decisions getting made. Eventually Coronavirus will pass, and the world will get back to its regularly scheduled programming of shaking hands and catching flights. In the meantime, there’s no need to halt skills training. Instead, why not use this as an opportunity for online learning? You may end up forging a new path of interactivity within your organization, long after this bug is gone.
For more information about how we can help your team up-level their skills online, learn more about our Successful Online Presentations workshop or our Corporate Storytelling Workshop (delivered virtually and on-demand digitally).