5 Powerful Techniques to Connect Virtually and Improve Leadership Development
When I get the invitation to be the Sales Strategy keynote speaker for the Economic Times Virtual Summit (India), I reach out to executive presentation coach, Sara Krisher. The foundation of my key message and outline are already locked down. I imagine a short consultation where we are fine-tuning and polishing my brilliant “pearl”.
About 90 seconds into our meeting, Sara asks, “Danita, are you open for feedback?”
Enthusiastically I reply, “Absolutely!”
90 minutes later, I leave with a totally re-organized, more effective keynote. I’m so grateful for Sara’s insights!
I realize that virtual communication requires a fine-tuned approach.
With all the disruption caused by Covid-19, it’s imperative that we improve our ability to virtually connect with our audiences, whether it’s to your team working from home or a virtual audience on the other side of the world.
The “front of the room” is changing. In a virtual setting, it seems more difficult to gauge whether or not your audience is engaged and “getting” your message.
I believe that Sara provides all leaders a valuable perspective and fresh insight on how to improve any virtual connection…and to polish your own “pearl”.
I’m proud to introduce you to her. And, we invite you to a virtual coffee to explore your communication and leadership goals and objectives.
5 Powerful Techniques to Improve Leadership Development
When I reach out to leaders and ask them what their number one challenge is regarding communication right now, they all answer the same way. “It’s difficult to connect with others virtually.”
I’ll confess when my meetings moved to a virtual setting instead of in-person I was disheartened. I couldn’t imagine a ‘connected’ experience with people being in little squares on my computer screen. I dreaded the idea of having to pivot.
How do we connect when distance and distraction separate us?
The answer came to me while my daughter had her weekly voice lesson. Dennis, her instructor, is an opera singer and has performed all over the world. He is old enough to retire, but instead chooses to pass on his love of music, for which I am grateful.
His instruction always involves a shift in perspective. One night, he turned to her and said, “When you’re singing, be more interested in being understood than in singing.”
I pondered this idea. Isn’t that what we need to do as leaders? Instead of trying to sound eloquent, articulate, or smart, we need to focus on being understood. It turns our attention to our audience, and we share our message, so it is heard, appreciated, and even experienced.
Seek to be understood. That is how we connect with our audience.
How presentations and meetings are taking place has changed, but how people connect hasn’t.
5 Powerful Techniques to Spark Leadership Development
1. Know the Critical Point
The Critical Point is the one thing you want your audience to walk away knowing. In any communication it can be easy to get off track or meander while sharing a message. Prepare a critical point in advance so you stay the course and share it with your audience so they understand the purpose and context of the meeting.
2. Invite a Conversation
Plan a few questions in advance. Your audience will appreciate a less formal tone and an opportunity to be a part of the discussion. Ask a question and get your audience to give input in the first ten minutes so they remain active listeners, not passive listeners.
3. Check-in Often
Whether in-person or virtual, if you are presenting information, you’ll want to check in with your audience to determine if they are listening and understanding what you’re sharing. A check-in could be a question like, ‘What questions do you have?’ or ‘What isn’t making sense?’ Everyone learns differently so don’t take offense if they don’t get it right away.
4. Involve your Audience in the Learning
A great way to keep your audience engaged and connected is to have them work in teams or individually to experience the learning. Consider that the audio channel (or speaking only) is just one way people learn. Another way they learn is by doing. How can you involve them in the doing? In a virtual setting you can whiteboard as a group; you can get into break-out rooms for mini discussions, and you can email handouts to work on during the meeting.
Pay Attention to Nuances
You’ve probably noticed nuances during your in-person meetings. Maybe you saw your team shift back in their seats and fold their arms. You sensed they weren’t buying what you were selling so you changed up your approach. In a virtual meeting you can still tap into these subtleties. Don’t be afraid to ask about the temperature in the room – metaphorically, of course!
Plan these connection techniques into your next meeting so the experience becomes one worthy of their time and yours.
Sara Krisher, MCPC
Speaker, Public Speaking Trainer, Presentation Coach
Watch this video discussion I had with Sara after she wrote this article.