Awe them from Your Home Office:
Digital communication tips to impress from a distance
Lately, I haven’t heard how lucky I am that I get to work from home. I am actually. I’d like to help you feel that way too.
Working with people remotely, communicating exclusively over digital media is challenging, but you don’t have to find your way through this alone. There are established best practices from the field of digital communication that you can easily implement in your work-from-home life to make sure you are heard, your emails are opened and your contributions are seen.
Be unambiguously positive: Subtlety leads to misunderstandings in digital meetings and communications
The subtlety in your tone, facial expressions, gestures are muted or lost over digital media, even video conferences. The loss of body language cues in digital meetings leads to misunderstandings, at the best of times, and these are not the best of times. You must be almost overly positive, now that we are all working remotely – you don’t want to sound like a jerk and you definitely don’t want to be a main contributor to the commiseration portion of group meetings. Let your optimism and kind words help you get your message through, as intended.
Be clear and concise: Long emails get ignored and wordy monologues become daydreaming time
Succinct messages are always the right way to go. With distractions at home, stress from routines being upended, fear for relatives and on and on – now, more than ever, you must fight for your colleagues’ attention.
Your game plan: Define the goal of your communication; what should people do or learn afterwards? Use short bullet points to plan what you will write in an email or slides or what you need to communicate in a meeting. Remove anything that does not further your goal. Use your bullet points in your emails and slides and as the basis for your speech, call, or presentation.
Bullet points are easier to read & more likely to keep the reader’s attention (emails, slides)
Flesh out bullet points with as few words as possible for speeches, calls, presentations
Remember, whether it’s a subject line that gets an email opened or slides that keep people awake, keep it brief and focused on your audience and what they need to get out this communication.
Repeat yourself: Get their attention and make sure they know you’re working
Yes. You are fighting for attention now, AND you will also be fighting the perception (of some) that you are lounging around your house all day. Working from home creates pressure to both make yourself heard and show how productive you are. The solution is the communications staple, repetition. Balancing home and work responsibilities, your work schedule has probably changed. Communicate your schedule often to everyone who needs to know your availability. Have you finished a project or reached a goal? Speak up. Joke about how since you’ve been home, you’ve been telling everyone everything you’ve been doing, a hundred times – then tell them again.
Be “heard” in meetings: Let them know you’re there and contributing
You are probably being invited to even more meetings than usual. A lot of things you used to be able to do quickly at the office, have become meetings. Even when they’re boring, be there. Let them know you are on the call. Contribute something useful. A nice, “Thanks everyone. Bye.”, really does remind everyone that you were there.
‘The visual’ is very important in digital media: At home, that means you
Just look at Twitter. People are used to getting a lot of information from an image. Pay attention to the message your image is sending. You may need to counter the bias that you are not really working at home or that your job couldn’t effectively be done from home. Literally, show them that you are thriving in your home office. Set your alarm, get up and showered. Get dressed for work. You are working and contributing, make it easy for them to see that.
A final tip
For your own peace of mind, assume positive intent from your colleagues – ‘It’ is probably not about you. If you can’t do that, then at least, don’t hit «send» on your angry response.
More to come.
Anissa Heyse, Scientific Writer & Consultant