Most businesses can’t take two weeks off, let alone several months.
For the next several months, ImageThink, its clients, and many of you are going to be working remotely. Unexpected and challenging as this might be, this new way of doing business might also present several opportunities.
You’re Competing with More Than Boredom
In the board room, your biggest enemies are stifled yawns and drifting focus. Online, tinny speakers, echoing voices, bad internet connection, accidental crosstalk, kids, pets, snacks and Netflix are all competing for your team, client, or audience’s attention when you meet.
When your opportunity lives inside a 12” screen, it is more critical than ever before to make sure you give that audience something worth looking at. For more than a decade, ImageThink has demonstrated the power of visuals to clarify, unite, and inspire teams around ideas.
A shared monitor of typed text, a bulleted slideshow, or worst of all a spreadsheet is practically begging your attendees to look somewhere else. Your content now has to both entertain and inform.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, including your own illustrations and doodles of your key points, your handwritten notes, or a chart or graph to demonstrate your point can be valuable. ImageThink started on the back of a napkin, after all.
We help our clients incorporate illustrations, infographics, and real-time notes when meeting online. We’ve also created several custom illustrated decks that they can fill in while leading their meetings.
Don’t Let a Flat Screen Flatten Your Personality
Most meetings default to joining with your camera switched OFF. This means that your virtual profile image is now your first impression. It is the first thing people see when you join the meeting, and represents a big opportunity to introduce yourself, impress your audience, and share some of your personality that can be easily lost in remote conferencing.
That’s more important than ever when your personality and persuasiveness are being compressed to two dimensions in 720p with mono audio. Looking at an all a black screen with the speaker’s username at the bottom is the instant ramen of disaster recipes.
For our team, and several of our clients, ImageThink has created visual biographies for people to use as their avatars and even their backgrounds when in meetings. Incorporating words and pictures, these photo-illustration collages help establish a sense of team unity, demonstrate to team members that their individuality is valued, and help define and quickly communicate areas of expertise.
Then, once you’re in the meeting, TURN YOUR VIDEO ON! As much as two thirds of our communication is non-verbal, which means meeting with a static image or blank screen decreases your persuasiveness, authority, and ability to influence listeners by 66%. So click the camera icon, look directly into your webcam lens, and start convincing people. You’d be surprised – eye contact really breaks the fourth wall!
An Agenda Optimized for an Attentive Audience
Avid readers will know that ImageThink specializes in meeting facilitation and agenda design. For years we’ve helped lead breakouts, document breakthroughs, and give clients a break from thinking about the meeting logistics. A well-made agenda has never been more important than in the new world of working remotely, so how does ImageThink construct one?
First, take the time you need – no more, no less. Long meetings are the worst. Correction. Long meetings sitting on a kitchen stool wearing earbuds while staring at a monitor are the worst.
Conversations need to be had and hashed out in real time, but it’s also important to remember that everyone’s environment has now changed. A makeshift home office isn’t anyone’s ideal space to spend several hours, so map out some reasonable time limits for discussion.
Second, plan some direct questions and use peoples’ names when you ask them. Calling people out directly helps keep them engaged and know that they are being seen and heard. And preparing specific questions in advance of the meeting ensures that everyone in the meeting is there for a reason and will benefit from their attendance.
Third, build in time for introductions, greetings, and some form of icebreaker. Part of what makes meetings effective is the natural chemistry and creativity that is spurred by socializing with other people. We’re craving human connection more than ever, so creating a space for some time to acclimate will be appreciated.
When You Take Notes, People Take Notice
If you’ve worked with ImageThink (or another graphic recorder) in the past, you’ve seen the value of having a visual note taker in the room to synthesize and capture the key ideas. You may be thinking that part of that value is in seeing the person scribing on large-scale foam core boards, or perhaps that having a computer makes it easier for team members to take their own notes without becoming distracted.
In fact, the opposite is more often true. Meeting virtually actually makes visual notes more valuable than ever. Not only do the notes provide a live, real-time point of focus, reinforcing verbal points as the meeting goes on, but they can entertain, and add humor and color to your point.
Graphic notes are another way to show your participants that all voices are being heard and all ideas are being recorded. They serve as a way to confirm to your disparate and dislocated team that you’re listening, taking their work into account.
Lastly, since these notes are created digitally, they’re available immediately upon the meeting’s end, and we can even create an animated time-lapse video of your discussion for you to share or review.
That Monitor is a Lot Bigger Than You Think
The coming weeks and months will take some getting used to, but being confined to a 12” laptop monitor needn’t be a limitation. Rather, it can serve as an opportunity to be creative and to leverage visual tools and technology in new ways.
We’d love to help. If you are looking for ways to better adapt your team to a work-from-home practice, please contact us today, or simply call the number above or use the chat feature in the bottom of your screen.