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7 Ways to Nail Your Remote Communication

confidence leadership remote communication
Four combined photos of people communicating remotely on computers and phones and in the car

 

By John Millen

As the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, many of my clients have instructed thousands of employees to work from home or other remote locations.
 
You may find yourself doing much more remote communication –– using video or audio conference calls as your primary means of communication.
 
For many people, this is just the continuation of a trend of working remotely with colleagues around the world.
 
Whether you’re new to the remote game or a veteran, here are seven tips my clients have found helpful to build confidence and nail their remote communication:

1. Fight for engagement

The most important thing to remember about remote communication is that you need to do everything possible to keep people engaged.  
 
It’s sad but true that everyone is distracted more than ever. With this in mind, much of the following advice is aimed at helping you be clear, concise and engaging in your remote communication. 
 
2. Think like a producer

Television and radio producers have mastered the art of engaging the human brain. You can learn to be a better remote communicator by observing how they keep your attention for extended periods. 
 

3. Plan your call

Producers carefully plan out every minute of a program. They know where the commercials fall and build small two- or three-minute blocks of stories. They keep it concise and interesting and quickly move to the next topic.
 
You can do the same. If you are responsible for a call, make sure to have a plan. Even if you don’t distribute an agenda, you should have one for yourself. 

4. Less is more

Don’t schedule an hour-long call of fluff, when you can cover the same ground in 20 or 30 minutes by focusing on topics that are real priorities. If you don’t, they’ll be doing email or surfing the internet during your call.
 
5. Turn on the cameras

Which brings us to cameras. If you have a video conference capability, such as with Zoom or Skype, you should ask people to turn on their cameras.  Some leaders make this optional, but seeing faces gives people a sense of human connection.

This is not a guarantee that they are paying attention. I have clients who confess to holding their phones next to the lens on their computers so they can read email during a video call. ;-) 
 
6. Turn up the energy

When you are speaking through a camera or phone, the main way to turn up the energy is through your voice. As I wrote recently, you should use vocal variety to unleash the power of your voice. It’s not just your volume, but also the tone and tempo you use, that generates interest.
 
7. Shake it up 

The main reason we get distracted is the constant stimulation we have from smartphones, social platforms and other media. We seem to constantly crave the dopamine reward in our brains.
 
As a coach and trainer, I can tell you that you must fight for engagement with your audience in person, and even more so during remote communication. 
 
Here are a few assorted tips to do this: ask questions; invite questions; do short exercises; don’t do all the talking yourself, add other voices; ask them to bring stories; tell stories yourself; assign roles ahead of time. 
 
There are many other creative ways to involve people in your call. Use your imagination or brainstorm with your team.
 
Technology has created a great opportunity to reach around the globe, but effective communication in a distracted world takes a thoughtful human approach. 
 
If you need help with that, or want to offer comments, visit my contact page to let me know.

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