Distractions. Zoom fatigue. Wi-Fi woes. We’ve heard all the reasons why communication has suffered this year. Let’s dig into how we can work with these barriers while also getting honest about how it wasn’t all rosy this time last year.
Many of you have shared with me you don’t feel you’re getting the best from folks or giving your best in meetings. Engagement suffers. Have you experienced:
- In a virtual meeting everyone has their camera off
- No one speaks up or offering solutions
- Not everyone who is invited attends
- The same few people always speak
- Only what’s not working (problems) are shared with no solutions
Okay, reality time. This article is about enhancing our communication during these challenging times, however can we really say this list is full of new issues? Anything on this list can you really say, yep, that’s just because of our current circumstance (from my healthcare days, I can tell you the number one root cause of a patient complaint was related to perceived lack of communication – and this was not relegated to times of outbreaks. With my HR/OD cap on, communication was often one of the lowest engagement scores).
So, if these existing challenges are compounded with things like:
- Some being at work while others are logging on remotely
- We’re managing even more interruptions and distractions
- Many are struggling with wellbeing, resiliency, and motivation
- Teams that relied on informal in-person touch bases may rarely connect now outside of formal meetings
- Teams on-site must navigate through physical distancing and PPE
In other words, we’re dealing with invisible past unaddressed gaps with big glaring new challenges. Have you experienced lately trying to buy something and have your voice heard through plexiglass, mask and lack of emotional expression by not seeing each other’s mouths? Now let’s raise those stakes beyond “your credit card was declined” (totally hypothetical example of course) to the professional context.
Simple Ways to Boost Your Communication Effectiveness
Since this is not easy stuff, I’ve turned to an expert. Suzannah Baum helps corporate executives to speakers to people like you and I, to elevate the communication effectiveness so that our messages are understood, persuasive and inspire action. How can you raise your communication game during and post-COVID for personal and team success? We’ve got you covered.
(And what’s the recognition link you ask? We can’t forever recognize others’ greatness if we can’t see, hear and experience it from each other.)
Suzannah’s Top 15 Communication Tips
Here are Suzannah’s 15 tips and where to find them in the video (see the timestamp beside each point):
- Assume people want to hear your ideas so share them (don’t hold yourself back) – 1:50
- Refrain from giving FYIs as that doesn’t usually compel people to think deeply about it– 2:17
- Connect the dots for folks versus assuming they’ll put together facts- 3:30 and 8:10
- Aim to inspire others to take action on what you have to say – 4:45
- Invite a co-creation of a next step (a ‘call to action’) whenever possible versus telling or demanding – 5:15
- Find a “hook” related to what people already know and care about– 6:30
- Consider what motivates people (and how this can vary in the group and from what motivates you) – 6:55
- Plan in advance how to clearly communicate the what, why and how of your point – 7:58
- Build connection on a human level by sharing your big “why” including why it matters to everyone – 8:20
- Don’t aim for perfect delivery; target progress versus the perfect outcome – 8:55
- Go beyond the business “why” to personal wellbeing at work and perhaps beyond – 9:15
- Know the answer to “why should I care”; adjust your message until you can clearly answer this – 10:00
- If you’re the one leading the meeting, review the agenda with yourself in the participants’ shoes; why does this matter to them so you are prepared to speak from that perspective – 10:00
- Share through the lens of your own experience such as sharing a brief story – 10:25
- Remember people want to hear from you so don’t keep it to yourself – 13:02
By the way, if you would like a tool from Suzannah about storytelling, you can get it here.
Your greatness is needed as much now as it ever was. Don’t hesitate to share your ideas and solutions. Don’t refrain from holding meetings that get at the “why” during this very sensitive and challenging time. Don’t feel you need to rush through an agenda so that your meetings are shorter. Now is the opportunity to elevate our expectations and experience of meetings and conversations so they are of substance, connective and make the greatness of all transparent.
Want help in elevating the engagement, energy and motivation of folks at your next major event – town hall, appreciation event, staff development session, leadership retreat? Reach out to us for ideas and explore options of how we can help.
PS. Did you know we have a microlearning course on Communication for Clarity and Confidence? Here’s where I share my best tools and practical advice about communication that will help you and your team build morale and confidence, even in times of uncertainty.