Famous philanthropist and drag queen Nina West has taken her show, for adults and kids alike (including Story Time with Nina! to help out working-from-home parents), to the virtual experience stage. Her online dragcasts are funny, informational, educational and relevant.
This is not a PR stunt. It’s smart business in a time of COVID-19 communications. If a drag queen can do it, businesses looking to stay connected with employees, clients and prospects can certainly do the same.
During this difficult time as we find ways to stay productive, remote work that includes physical distancing is a must. How can we keep our connections with customers, constituents, prospects and partners? This goes beyond simple small group virtual work conditions. It includes virtual conferences and other learning opportunities.
These tips will keep you together but not alone, and staying in front of those who need to hear from you even in the midst of a pandemic.
- Get clear on your body language. Research highighted by Albert Mehrabian shows that during times of crisis or conflict, only 7% of the takeaway from communications is the content or substance, what he calls the verbal aspects, of what is said. Just above that, at 38%, is what your voice sounds like, which includes its tone, volume and (probably now more than ever) whether or not you sound sick. Mehrabian calls this the vocal aspect.
- More than half of what’s noticed (55%) is what people see, or the visual aspect—and this includes your physical appearance, facial expressions, gestures, the background and any audiovisuals. This Inc.com story gives good counsel on how to manage your “digital body language.”
- Maximize your visuals. If you are not already using tools such as the built-in functionality in Powerpoint, visual software Canva or presentation-on-steroids Prezi to inexpensively enhance your visuals, start doing so now. Every online presentation, from webinars to the new normal of online meetings, should have twice the number of slides.
- Look to visual goddess Nancy Duarte’s site for templates you can leverage to help with ideas for more visual interest. The flat surface of the computer screen can be unforgiving, but you can also use it to your advantage. Look to leverage platforms that give you split-screen options for keeping your video up AND sharing your presentation.
- Get social (while keeping physical distance). Now more than ever, your people—whoever they may be—need to hear from you. Sharing updates on how you are handling COVID-19 and how you are caring for employees, clients and the community during this time are critical. At the same time, although it’s certainly not business as usual, you should also be giving updates on how you are continuing to do business during this time. This is important and a big part of laying out the path forward. And don’t forget to ask and listen through your social channels. Active listening during this time is more important than usual.
- Repeat, repeat and repeat. Without the benefit of the full 360-degree in-person experiences, we must remember that repetition is even more important. Leverage all communications channels with your external audiences, from targeted emails to newsletters, your website, direct mail, social media and news media.
- Podcast it! Have you ever thought of starting a podcast? Now is the time! Even before coronavirus hit, podcasts were gaining in popularity. People enjoy being able to listen and learn, and you can use a number of tools to get started and keep your momentum. This Buzzsprout article includes step by step recommendations, including equipment investments based on different needs. And this Ragan story includes clear benefits for implementing for internal communications needs just as much as external thought leadership.
- Find your niche. Don’t let your important information get lost in the noise. Highlight what you are doing differently during this time and lean into it. Standing out, in the right way, is a positive at this time. Don’t
- Don’t cancel—just go virtual. Consider hosting digital conferences. Platforms such as Zoom make it inexpensive and easy to put people into breakout rooms for focused discussion.
- Use online polling for content preferences. To get your audiences thinking ahead about a virtual conference and as a way to build hype, ask people what they want to hear about. Host online conversations ahead of the big event to get ready for the virtual conference.
The big takeaway is this: Don’t stop communicating. Find new ways to share your stories in this time of transition.
Everyone else is waiting for what’s next. Don’t get stuck in the waiting room. Let “what’s next” be your ideas, solutions and compelling point of view. This moment is yours, if you can seize it.