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Adapting speaking skills to the virtual world

Speaking to a virtual audience is different from speaking to a live audience.  To be successful in the virtual world, you need to understand that world, and how it differs fundamentally from the live world.

Here’s the most important thing to understand about the virtual world.

Your virtual audience is in a familiar environment: they are in their personal space whether it’s the kitchen, bedroom or home office. They’re seeing you on a small screen. It’s almost like watching TV.

So their expectations are ‘entertain me’ - just like a TV show. And give me a commercial break every 10 minutes or so.

A live audience is sitting in an unfamiliar environment… an auditorium or conference room. There’s more mental stimulation. People are chatting, laughing. There may even be music. And there’s certainly applause.

All of this creates an atmosphere that’s very different from someone alone in their kitchen or bedroom or home office.

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Virtual meetings fail without real connections

virtual meetings zoom Jul 13, 2020

We had two conversations with executives in the last few days, one in the UK, one in Canada. Different characters, different businesses - but both complained about the same thing: Zoom fatigue.

Both said they routinely would have five or six virtual meetings every day. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not crying ‘poor me’. Both execs have very senior positions and they are fortunate to be able to direct their businesses from home. They know a lot of people have had life a lot harder over the last 3 months.

They were simply pointing out how exhausting it is to work in a virtual world. Both were surprised at how much more tiring it was to take part in a series of virtual meetings, rather than face-to-face encounters. What they found draining was trying to ensure the meetings were useful.

There’s no doubt that taking part in a virtual meeting demands more focus and concentration. By its nature, the medium eliminates most of these clues and cues that...

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Webcam Tip #5 - All about lighting

virtual meetings webcams Jul 13, 2020

So far, in this series of short video tips about how to look good when using a video conferencing app, we've looked at how to set up the computer, how to avoid distracting backgrounds, where to look and what to wear. Today, for the fifth in this series of six videos, I want to focus on lighting.

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Are live conferences dead?

Uncategorized Jun 30, 2020

I have seen the future and it is virtual. Recently, I participated in a virtual leadership conference on a platform called Remo. It was as good as being at a live conference. Actually better, because there were no lineups to the washrooms.

Remo has everything we associate with conferences - networking, sharing business cards, round table discussions, an emcee, breakout rooms and keynote speakers.

In this platform you can move from table to table, record the event for later distribution on your other social media platforms and have your virtual business card available with one click.

So is there a place for old fashioned live events after Covid? Yes, because it is in our nature to gather face-to-face, belly-to-belly. But what those live gatherings will look like post-Covid is anyone’s guess.

Many are saying there will be ‘hybrid’ events in the future - a fusion of live and virtual audiences. For example, an international company can hold their conference live at...

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Slow and steady wins the networking race

networking Jun 12, 2020

How do you network when you can’t leave the house? Michael Hughes knows how.

Michael Hughes is North America’s undisputed networking guru. For over 25 years he’s taught executives and professionals how to accelerate their careers and businesses through networking.

On a CAPS Atlantic Zoom call he shared valuable tips on networking for success without leaving home or getting out of your PJs. 

Here’s what you need to remember before you start:

  • Networking online is no different from a face-to-face networking
  • Begin with the end in mind. Define your objective. Is it revenue or trust-building or visibility etc? Be clear
  • Less is more. Don’t try to be all thing to all people
  • Slow and steady wins the race
  • Build relationships first

Michael shared his thoughts on some of the big things that get in our way:

  • Technology. We have to know platforms like LinkedIn, and use them
  • Emotion. There’s very little emotion in an electronic world. So we need to...
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Are you a victim of Zoom fatigue? We have the remedy

Has Zoom fatigue set in yet? If it has, don’t worry; you are not alone. A lot of people are reporting feeling unnaturally tired or stressed after a video-conference session, whether it’s Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype.

Instances of people being exhausted after a video call are not just anecdotal. “There's a lot of research that shows we actually really struggle with this,” Andrew Franklin, an assistant professor of cyberpsychology at Virginia’s Norfolk State University, told National Geographic Magazine.

The magazine has a fascinating article titled ‘Zoom fatigue is taxing the brain’. It quotes Professor Franklin as saying people may be surprised at how difficult they’re finding video calls, given that the medium seems neatly confined to a small screen and presents few obvious distractions.

One of the big problems is that the video call, especially with a Brady Bunch assortment of faces crowding the screen, robs us of the ability...

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Webcam Tip #4

webcam tips Jun 06, 2020

So far, in this series of short video tips about how to look good when using a video conferencing app, we've looked at how to set up the computer, how to avoid distracting backgrounds, and what to wear.

Today, for the fourth in this series of six videos, I want to focus on eye-contact.

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The bigger the crisis, the smaller the words you need

If you want your words to have impact, keep them simple. A great article in the Harvard Business Review brings this home wonderfully, by looking at some of the messaging around Covid-19.

When New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued the order that disrupted life for millions of New Yorkers and shut down the city’s financial centre, he tweeted out these words:

“Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives.”

Seven words. All single syllables. Just 39 characters.

The HBR article ‘imagines’ how that message might have looked in the hands of someone seeking to impress with their authority through the use of what may be thought of as ‘professional’ language:

“For the preservation of public health and safety, I hereby order all residents not engaged in essential activities that impact critical infrastructure to remain in their residences in order to mitigate the propagation of the coronavirus and to minimize morbidity and mortality.”

A heady...

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Where does a powerful speech come from?

Uncategorized Jun 02, 2020

Where does a powerful speech come from?

It doesn’t come from power. If it did, Donald Trump would deliver powerful, empathetic speeches instead of the empty, divisive rhetoric delivered in all-cap Tweets.

It doesn’t come from wealth. A rich person is not automatically a great speaker. But a poor person may become rich through their speaking skills.

A powerful speech comes from the heart, from lived experience, from the willingness to re-live pain and expose vulnerabilities, and from compassion.

This week a friend and client of ours posted on Facebook a heart-felt statement about events in the United States in the wake of the killing by white police of yet another black person, George Floyd.

Ben John (above), who lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was gracious enough to let us reprint his words. From a speaker’s point of view, it has a beginning, a middle and an end; the language is simple and direct; he speaks from personal experience, but then expands to a global...

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Is this the speech a nation has been waiting for?

Uncategorized Jun 02, 2020

It’s been described as pitch perfect, a great speech, and ‘what a president sounds like’ when addressing a national crisis. But it didn’t come from the President.

Former vice-president Joe Biden, the presumptive challenger to Donald Trump in November, delivered a highly-acclaimed speech today aimed at starting the healing process in the US after the killing of another black person at the hands of the police.

Joe Biden’s speech was powerful, personal, and passionate. One of the best political speeches I’ve heard in a long time. He was addressing the turmoil and despair across the United States over the death of George Floyd at the hands of white police officers.

Let's take a look at it from a speaker's point of view.

Biden’s speech was powerful because he used simple, plain language as he acknowledge the troubled times Americans are going through, with another episode of police violence against black people coming on top of the...

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