Are We Zooming into a New Way of Communicating?

How do we communicate effectively when we cannot be in the same room? Phone calls and telecoms have always been a way to stay in touch with colleagues and clients. And of course, e-mails have long been ubiquitous – arguable often misused and frequently open to [mis]interpretation.

Throughout COVID-19, we have communicated through different platforms, notably video calls. And it is important to stay in touch frequently to exchange information, support one another, or even just to check in – this is key at all levels of an organisation, including leaders. But this is not without challenges; many people can feel overwhelmed on multi-parcipanm video calls, technology can let us down, and it can be easy to feel disconnected in the emotional sense. On the other hand, a video call provides more tools to stay on track, share information on screen and verbally, record actions and with canny use of the mute button, ensure everyone gets a chance to contribute.

Even before this crisis, email domination has been challenged by group messaging systems such as Slack – the best one foster collaboration and teamwork, in a real-time, instantaneous, and easy format.

There is a reason why we have previously held onto face to face meetings for so long; used effectively, there is a strong agenda and clear objectives, resulting in a set of specific and measurable actions and outcomes with clear ownership. But let’s be honest – how often do we leave a face to face meeting and feel it genuinely achieved these goals?

We all have preferences when it comes to how we communicate, interact, and learn, and it is important to consider and commodore this. Particularly in difficult times, transparency and open communication from leadership is key: think about the different channels available and what information your employees and customers are looking for (and which medium they may prefer to receive it on) – from strategy, to capability, to delivery.

Whatever tools we use to engage with each other while working remotely, it is even more important to be kind, professional, avoid ambiguity, and know your audience. While we communicate with each other remotely, are we holding great meetings while making doubly sure everyone has an opportunity to contribute?