Mystifying things is simple, but how to communicate crystal clear remotely?

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By now, most people have experienced the hidden difficulties of remote communication. In our first article, we explained key elements of a communication plan in remote times. You can read it here. In this second article, we focus on how to organise your communication  and make it crystal clear before, during and after communicating.

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Today, people miss a great deal of the non-verbal communication or corridor talks, what makes it much harder to pivot in online meetings. Therefore, more structure and higher clarity is needed. A great opportunity for both online and face2face meetings! One of the key learnings every organisation should impose itself now, is to keep this much better structured communication style also when face2face meetings are possible again.

Organising highly structured meetings, however, does not mean that we cannot brainstorm or go wild! If we aim for the latter, we just need to be crystal clear about it upfront and prepare ourselves accordingly.

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BEFORE

Following elements are crucial nowadays in remote communication before the meeting itself:

  • Define goal and scope of your agenda 6-times better than you used to do it face2face
  • Define needed participants and their required input or preparation well in advance. Make sure they follow the same high-quality standards. A meeting where people ‘’only talk’’ is far from effective in an online context. Since there is less social control online, people will switch more quickly to another activity and they are absolutely right. Meeting owners should make sure the topic is very relevant for all participants.
  • Structure the content of the meeting and map it for yourself on the meeting flow. Think of possible situations or scenario’s that might happen during the meeting, so that you have confident feeling about the agenda, preparation or attendees.
  • Make sure roles and responsibilities in your communication or meetings are (again) crystal clear and agreed upfront. Most of the times, following roles for your meeting are needed.

Who is the owner of the meeting and what is his/her role? Will this person make the final decision in the end, or do you strive for collaborative decisions? The leader keeps the discussions in line with the original goal and scope of the meeting.

Who will keep track of timing of the meeting? It’s good practice to show visually the key decisions and next steps, even as raw notes, in the last 5 to 10 minutes of the meeting to make sure that all participants have the same understanding. Will that same person make the meeting minutes including the key decisions and next steps?

 

DURING

During the meeting, you will create much more clarity in your communication, by focusing on following points:

  • Be attentive in sharing the context of your story, much more than before. Also here, in any online communication, people will more wrongly or incompletely interpret what you’ve said . Apart from being a cool song, Cinderella sang it already: ''You don't know what you got till it's gone''. By now, most people realize that they miss all the non-verbal communication.
  • Adapt your communication style to the person you want to address: both to individuals as well as to teams:

First, focus on down chunking your message. Moving communication with your team to a higher abstraction level while simultaneously switching online, is too much to handle for most people. Down chunking implies you need to prepare your message decently.

Second, think ahead about the different personalities of the people in your team and assess for yourself whether your communication is crystal clear for all of them. Can they interpret the message wrongly?

  • Another great practice is to not only communicate explicitly what you want to achieve, but also what you don’t want. After all, for most people, explaining what this is not about, often brings more clarity.

AFTER

Great meeting owners re-evaluate the meeting in their mind and think about participation, what was said and what was not said, about the process, key conclusions, ... Guiding a meeting and becoming better at it is a complex thing after all.

Every company has their own ''action system'', so let's make sure that all key actions are integrated in your system and not sent separately in another mail. The latter approach might result in overlooked or forgotten actions.

As owner, check well ahead before the next meeting if people will be ready with their actions (and if not, why) so that that one will be also fruitful.

 

In our third and final article about remote communication, we share our key findings in how you can maintain energising and motivating communication with people. After all, planning your communication and making sure it is clear are two essential elements. Motivating your people with your communication however is the ultimate next level.