Articles | Spoken Word Communications - Part 2

Online Classrooms: What Educators Can Learn from Corporate Communication

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The academic year has started, and one thing is for sure: the virtual classroom experience this time will be different.  

Online Classroom

School districts will make virtual education possible thanks to an array of digital platforms. For students, punctuality, engagement, and participation will be essential to receive a passing grade. For educators, there are effective techniques you can implement to improve online engagement with your students, similar to how business managers communicate with their team members.

As educators, let’s take a look at how a few corporate communication techniques can translate effectively into our virtual classrooms.

Recognizing legitimate concerns

Successful teachers connect with their students. A connection through a monitor has substituted face-to-face interaction. An upfront candid acknowledgment that we have all been part of this collective experience is a likely connector.

Improving visual and vocal impression

Now, and for the foreseeable future, video will be the vessel educators will use to teach. Remember, there is an element of performance when communicating on camera.

  • Speak a little louder than you think you have to. Adding volume to your voice will take your lecture a long way.
  • Add inflection to essential concepts to avoid becoming vocally monotonous.
  • Body language conveys energy. Don’t be afraid to gesture with your hands, even if your image can only be seen from the waist up. Students need the motivation to help them make the best out of the virtual classroom experience.

Making complex concepts come alive

There is a storyteller in all of us. Now is the time to use your own stories, examples, analogies, illustrations to make your lessons real and memorable. Academic subjects requiring complex problem solving can be significantly enhanced with visual elements. The virtual classroom offers an endless choice of videos, graphics, and illustrations for students to grasp, process, and retain knowledge.

Building bridges

Although teachers have the ability to mute the students’ microphones during lectures, students will be encouraged to take part in classroom discussion. Sooner or later the discussion will go off topic, as it often does in the classroom, and the teacher is responsible for getting back on track.

Stay on target by acknowledging the question and bridging back to your topic. Get comfortable using phrases like these for a smooth transition:

  • What’s vital for us to know is…
  • Let me reemphasize…
  • The most important thing for the class to know is…
  • The main takeaway from today’s lesson is…

Whether the instruction is in-person or online, one factor remains equally important: for teachers to reach students at the intellectual level, they will first need to reach them emotionally.

To learn more about how Spoken Word Communications can help with your online training and communication effectiveness, contact us.

3 Quick Video Conferencing Tips

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Dust off your Spoken Word media training skills for desktop video conferencing, whether you’re using Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting or any other online meeting app.  

Engaging Video Conferencing Delivery

Avoid these common delivery pitfalls and your message will be received loud and clear.

The key to a stellar performance is to strike a balance between three delivery components.

  • Visual—how you look
  • Vocal—how you sound
  • Verbal—what you say

If your body language and vocal queues are quirky, your audience will not be paying attention to your words.

Common Video Conferencing Pitfalls

Here are three Dos and Don’ts to avoid common delivery pitfalls when video conferencing.

1.  Don’t let your guard down

—be appropriately professional and presentable on camera. In other words, don’t wear your PJ bottoms or otherwise slack off because you’re not in person!

2.  Don’t let your energy level wane or get distracted

—be attentive to other speakers and look into the camera to simulate “eye contact” when you’re speaking AND when you’re listening.

3.  Don’t be a soft talker

—the audience can always turn their volume down if you’re too loud, but they may not be able to turn it up enough to hear you. Good posture not only helps you look attentive, it also helps your voice project.

Remember that your media training skills are transferable communication skills—they’re equally as effective when video conferencing.

Need a refresher in Media Strategies, Crisis Communication, Angry Public or Presentations skills? Contact us.

Influencing Webinar Audiences

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The power of communication played a key role in changing perceptions among a 300-strong audience in a recent Oil and Gas Council webinar on the future of oil and gas frontier exploration.

Opinions change. Before and after pie charts.

The audience were asked for their initial view on: ‘There is No Future for Frontier Exploration’ with 56% voting against the motion, 23% in support and 21% undecided. At the end of the discussion, the same question was asked again and whilst voting against the motion had increased slightly to 58%, there had been a big shift among undecided delegates, which increased those in support to 37%.

What led to this change of opinion? 

To provide an instant assessment of the audience’s opinion both before and after the discussion, the webinar facilitator polled the audience with only one question. Consequently, this technique also tested each presenter’s communication effectiveness and how well they targeted their key messages.

The vital components of any powerful presentation delivery are what you say, how you look, and how you sound — and for all three to work in tandem.

“It was an interesting debate that showed how powerful communication delivery can influence views. All presenters delivered powerful arguments for and against the motion. The shift in opinion among the undecided delegates was undoubtedly helped by those presenters in favor of the motion delivering a strong narrative with supporting data, and using their voice inflection and body language effectively to emphasize key messages.”  

Clive Hawkins, Spoken Word’s Senior Associate

This wasn’t a one-off outcome either. In subsequent Oil and Gas Council webinars on upstream M&A activity and attracting industry talent, there were similar shifts in opinion among undecided audience members.

With the oil and gas industry in the midst of a critical transformation and needing to address major challenges, the ability for business leaders to deliver powerful face-to-face and online presentations will be key to influencing opinion and securing future business success.

For more information on how your organization can benefit from Spoken Word’s presentation training programs, contact us.

The Continued Rise in Prominence of Risk Registers

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It is often said that out of crisis comes opportunity. For the advancement of organizational risk management systems, that time is now!

The issues we have witnessed in recent months around covid-19, social unrest and economic uncertainty have affected all markets and companies around the world and challenged our ways of living and working.

Many companies will already be using a risk management heat map, dashboard or register to identify business issues, determine mitigation measures, assign internal owners and monitor on-going progress. However, to what extent are communication risks included? Company research conducted by Deloitte gives a mixed picture and no doubt many still focus primarily on operational and financial risks.

As we move out of covid-19, and re-adjust to the new way of operating, all companies will need to consider:

– How well they performed as a business and communicated with their employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders throughout lockdown?

– What operational, financial and communication goals will need to be delivered in the next 6-12 to months to achieve company prosperity and maintain mutual trust with key stakeholders?

– Any additional measures that are required to bridge the performance gap and mitigate business risk from future pandemics or environmental, political and societal issues?

Risk registers are gaining prominence as an invaluable business tool but must be relevant, kept up-to-date and include communications as a strategic focus area if they are to help provide answers to the above. Managing communication risk underpins strong effective corporate governance, strengthens stakeholder engagement and protects brand reputation. Spoken Word is here to provide an independent assessment on identifying and mitigating any aspect of communications risk.

The time is now for a renewed focus on risk communication!

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