Empathetic Communication From Leaders In The Time Of Covid

By | May 28th, 2020|Authenticity, Leadership, Personal Profile, Presentation skills, Public speaking, Uncategorized|

We often look at how our leaders communicate to see what we can learn. Sometimes we share examples of outstanding communication as well as times they get it wrong.

 At the moment, what our leaders are doing and saying is affecting our lives in an extraordinary way. This means we all have strong opinions about the actions that are being taken and how they are explained to us.

 From the many briefings and Q&A sessions going on around the globe, we have been repeatedly struck by one lesson. That is the importance of empathy.

 This is often an underrated quality in speakers. Unfortunately, some leaders confuse it with showing weakness and vulnerability in a way that will undermine respect. We do not believe this is true in ‘ordinary’ times and it is certainly not true in a crisis.

 For anyone who underestimates empathy as something ‘fluffy’ or untrustworthy, they are on shaky ground. From Aristotle’s Rhetoric onwards it has been an essential part of persuasion.

 Two politicians who have unquestionably shown the power of empathy are Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Andrew Cuomo Mayor of New York.

 For Ardern, there are the memorable moments of empathy on a small-scale level including warning children the Easter bunny might not make it to every house . When empathy is combined with simple, powerful messages it hits home. Particularly effective was her comment: “We only have 102 cases – but so did Italy once.”

 For Andrew Cuomo, he wasn’t afraid to share his personal pain:

 “I haven’t seen my daughter in over two weeks. It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart. And this concept of maybe I can’t get next to her because of this virus. There’s a distance between me and my daughter because of this virus. It saddens me to the core. And it frightens me to the core.”

 This gives him the right to talk about shared struggles and his belief about the ability of the people of New York to come through it.

 “Understand what we’re dealing with. Understand the pressures that we’re feeling, but we will get through this time. Be a little bit more sensitive. Understand the stress. Understand the fear. Be a little bit more loving, a little bit more compassionate, little bit more comforting, a little bit more cooperative and we will get through this time.”

 Empathy is something we can all embrace and become stronger leaders.

A simple guide to improving your articulation

By | April 14th, 2020|Blog, Building Confidence, Client skills, Online meetings, Online video, Presentation skills, Uncategorized, Video, Voice|

Our Head of Voice at MSB Executive; Steven Maddocks shares simple tools and techniques to improve articulation. This is another part of our series to ensure impactful communication at online meetings.

Hate watching yourself on video? Don’t worry, you are in good company.

By | March 25th, 2020|Blog, Body Language, Building Confidence, Online meetings, Online video, Personal Profile, Uncategorized, Video|

One of the side effects of having so many online meetings is that we cannot avoid seeing ourselves on screen. Some people find it distracting and others even say it makes them feel anxious.

This short blog is written to assure you that you are not alone. Many actors refuse to watch their performances and go to great lengths to avoid it. Recently Adam Driver walked out of an interview to avoid seeing himself on screen.

This may seem particularly strange for an actor. It feels a bit like a chef refusing to eat their own food!

Whenever we use video in our sessions with clients we always give a health warning. Most of the video we see is on television and film. As the end credits show there is a small army of people ensuring the actors look good (or sometimes bad). This includes a lighting team, sound team and a number of make up artists. 

This can mean that even if we are doing a great job at our online meeting it might not look that way. If we judge ourselves by the standards of TV and video then we will always be disappointed.

More tips will follow on this blog to help us look as good as possible but in the meantime, a really good option is to get a desk light like the one we recommended in an earlier blog.

If all else fails, hopefully you can take some comfort from the fact that even the professionals with all their support teams often find it difficult as well.

Stay connected as a team with online video tools

By | March 24th, 2020|Uncategorized|

During these uncertain times where the majority of us are now working from home, it’s so important to keep that sense of connection with our teams and colleagues. We share a quick video on how we can maintain that human contact using online video tools.

How to look and sound your best on video

By | March 23rd, 2020|Uncategorized|

Worried how you look on video calls? Brighten your image.

By | March 18th, 2020|Uncategorized|

People often feel they look washed out on video calls. Using a specialist light can transform how you look. This is a short demo of the difference it makes.

A simple guide to the best video conferencing software

By | March 17th, 2020|Uncategorized|

In light of the rush to move communications online, we’ve been asked which video conferencing software we recommend. While we are not technology experts below is our humble opinion based on our experiences and feedback from clients.

Overall preference: Zoom

Pros – Most importantly, it has the most reliable performance. There are lots of additional features – even on the free package. We particularly liked the shared whiteboard feature. On the paid package there is the ability to create break-out groups and do group polls on calls. There is even the option to “Touch up my appearance”!

Cons – You can only do 40 minute sessions on the free package. Also something to be aware of is there is no toll-free dial-in numbers for the US or the UK. Participants need to download the app.

Go to meeting

Pros – you can personalise your meeting room although it’s not of huge benefit. It is easy to use and set up. You can add on additional packages ‘Go to Webinars’ and ‘Go to training’ if that is more what you need the software for.

Cons – we have had some problems with video quality particularly pixelating video images. While it “does what it says on the tin” there are fewer bonus features than you will find with Zoom.

Google Hangouts

Pros – we really loved the ability to turn on captions. It converts what you are saying directly into text. It wasn’t 100% accurate but is a nice accessibility feature. Very easy to set these calls up too – it embeds easily into Google calendar invites.

Cons – The quality is not always so good unless you have an excellent connection. In some ways it is simpler than other options as you do not have to download the app but given the range of Google products on offer it can be confusing to use.

Slack

Pros – great for internal teams sharing documents, messaging together constantly and the group call functionality is fine.

Cons – not so useful for calls outside the team so you wouldn’t use Slack to have calls with clients for example

MS Teams

Pro – similar to Slack it has rich functionality for sharing within teams. We really like the function of being able to blur your background even if it distracted us by playing with it for a good three minutes!

Cons -Quite arduous to get into and set up for the team. Like Slack it is designed for sharing within internal teams rather than external presentations and meetings.

Why we have not covered Facetime/Skype/Whatsapp

These are great tools for personal conversations. They are not our first choice for formal video conferencing because it means that your clients/colleagues/business associates would forever have access to your personal video conferencing and would be at liberty to call you any time. To maintain control and professionalism, one of the above would be our preferred options.

And finally…

Some online tools are blocked in different jurisdictions (Zoom is blocked in the UAE for example) so make sure in advance your audience can access the tool.

 

Let us know your experience of these tools. Which is your preferred option or are there any bugbears about any of these that we haven’t covered?

Part 2: how improv can boost creativity and collaboration in business

By | December 20th, 2019|Building Confidence, Client skills, Networking Skills, Performance, Presentation skills, Public speaking, Team Building, Uncategorized|

In part 1, we covered ‘let yourself fail’ and the ‘yes and’ principles.

This blog looks at how Improv can reframe the way you interact with others.

Make your partner look and feel like a genius

People often say to me ‘It must be terrifying to do improv, there’s so much pressure to be funny’. Yet, Improv is really about the collective contribution of the group – not you as an individual. There’s nothing more irritating than someone in an improv scene on their own agenda and taking the attention away from the group. This irritation might be familiar in the office too!

The focus instead lies on how to set your scene partners up for them to be in the best possible light. How you can make it easy for them to add something to whatever you’ve just said.This completely takes the pressure off you so you relax and just focus better on being present in the scene. What’s more, if everyone is trying to make each other look good, there’s a good chance everyone succeeds!

At work, we can so often be worried about our own performance – we tend to have individual appraisals and targets. However, no one ever really achieves anything alone. Our culture applauds the lone genius but Einstein, Edison and Jobs – they all had teams of people helping them! Ideas were honed through collaboration and discussions.

Improv encourages us back towards the creative power of the group. At work we can often feel that should never present an idea until it’s a fully formed and ‘perfect’. It’s a real creativity inhibitor. Instead, sharing and building ideas as a collective allows them to evolve into so much more than one mind could have created on their own.

Be fully present

There is no more important skill in improv than listening! When you’re in a performance, you have to be so fully present because new details are flying around you by the second – everyone suddenly has new names, are in new settings with new scenarios! If you miss the details, the audience is going to notice.

In real life however, we often listen only to respond. When someone is talking, we are busy formulating our reply rather than intently tuning in. We miss so much detail that way. There are many improv games and exercises, which challenges us to listen to every single word our partners say. It’s enlightening.

In business, imagine if everyone listened in an ‘improv’ way to colleagues, clients and stakeholders. It not only reduces the chance of creating products no-one wants or marketing campaigns that miss the point. It’s deeper than that. If you truly listen to someone, they feel heard – one of our basic human needs. It changes the way someone feels about you.

So not only do you give someone the gift of being heard, you also get access to a lot more accurate information to enable better decisions. It’s something you need to actively switch on though. Honing these skills in the improv classroom gives you a better chance of activating this ‘listening mode’ in any meeting or important conversation.

A final word

The real beauty of Improv is not in any one of these principles but in the alchemy when they are all in force together! Imagine – you are not afraid to share an idea because your team-mates have got your back. Ideas grow into something because everyone  ‘yes, ands’ what is offered. Solutions develop and evolve. Everyone is fully listening and responding to each other in an attentive way.

I grant you this may still seem like a distant fantasy for the office. Yet, what if you chose to just implement some of these for yourself? What would that do for your performance? How would it change how others viewed you?

What’s more, it’s a more joyful approach to work. Improv advocates permission to ‘play’ again. It’s an extremely fun way to refine the very best of human skills.

For more information on how to bring Improv into your office or team, get in touch with Nicola (nicola@msbexecutive.com).

Load More Posts