Hi, my name is Adam McClary, I am a High Ticket Closer. I love helping business owners increase revenues. In this article I am going to explore the topic of how to use technology in communication. Does it help or harm our ability to connect with others? I hope you enjoy this, please leave your concerns, comments and observations in my social media feed.
My first exposure to video conferencing:
A few years ago I joined a non for profit. I wanted to help small farmers in South Dakota become more profitable. Unfortunately, what I did not know that this commitment would require me to drive 450 miles on my own dime to attend a one day meeting. Telling my friends I was a vice president of a non for profit was amazing. But that feeling did not last as I read the email notification one more time. “We are scheduling an emergency meeting as a board. We will not meet our objectives on time even with our weekly hour long phone conferences.” Sitting there in my living room I felt conflicted. Surly I wasn't the only one that was dreading an eight hour drive just to meet for a few hour meeting. I knew I couldn't just quit helping the association. I really believed in what we were doing. However, I couldn't just take a day off work anytime we were in danger of not meeting a deadline.
So I sent out a suggestion via email, Could we possibly meet using a free video conferencing software. Quickly I heard back from the older members, No. They did not know how to download or use this new technology. This idea would not work. Not to be deterred, I thought up a new plan. I knew that the state had video conference capabilities. What if we all traveled to the closest local town and had a web based meeting using these preset rooms? Finally they relented and the date was set. The farthest anyone had to drive that day was one hour. The best part is that we not only had a great meeting. We actually finished our objectives just four hours. Everyone was so excited that they decided we would meet via video conference from now on. I learned a valuable lesson that day, technology is a powerful tool when used correctly.
What is communication?
Communication is simply the transfer of information from one place to another place. There are different levels of communication, verbal, non verbal, and written. Most of us communicate face to face just fine. If we are both in the same environment, we can see how the other person moves their face, hands and body. In fact Albert Mehrabian is often quoted for the work that he published in 1967 saying that 55% of communication is nonverbal, 38% is tone of voice and only 7% are the words spoken.
Does this mean that when I am writing an email that I am only 7% effective at communicating? I hope not. I would like to think that I am better at writing that that? But what it does mean is that when I am writing my article that I am encoding a message. A message that you then have to decode after you receive it. This means that if emails or text messages are not written carefully entire thoughts or even your intent for the message can get lost in translation. What if you could avoid this? Now with the advent of free conferencing software it is possible to have a face to face meeting with anyone in the world who has a phone and WIFI signal. But what about email and text are they really that effective at conveying our emotions, tone, and thoughts? Is there a better solution?
Why you should use technology for communication:
The other day I was sending some Linkedin messages. I saw a company that I wanted to work with. I got on the phone with a sales representative from the company and instantly discerned that I could help them increase sales. So I sent out a series of messages. I sent them to the ceo, coo, sales managers, everyone. And I only had one person connect with me, this amounted to a 5% engagement rate. I thought to myself, I suck! I knew my writing had been ineffective. But, I also did not want to spend the next two months going thru a copy writing course. I need results now, so I switched strategys.
I knew that there had to be a way to send a video message. So after a few minutes on google I found a company that would allow me to record and send video messages. So I refined my list down to the top four decision makers of the company. I recorded short one to two minute personalized videos and sent the video link out. Guess what happened, I had two videos watched within 12 hours that's 50% engagement. One of the prospects even took the time to view my linkedin profile. I was ecstatic, once again I was impressed with the power of technology in communication.
Three years ago I had driven to Pittsburgh PA for a conference. I met up with my group of friends and we walked down a steep hill in the biting cold to get some dinner at the local Chipotle Grill. Apparently it was the popular choice that night. The place was packed but we finally found one table for four. As we sat down all of my friends started staring into their screens. I only had a flip phone at that point so I started watching people. Everyone that came in the door was on a phone. Everyone that was sitting down eating was on a phone. In fact for the first fifteen minutes of our meal I was the only non employed person in the building not staring silently into a phone.
This is the curse of technology. If we are not intently focused on connecting with the other humans around us, we will neglect them and crawl deeper and deeper into the techno world. As far as I am concerned the world of virtual reality is already here, it just is not perfected yet. So you may ask, do you need to communicate with your employees via blog, social media posts, podcasts and videos to remain relevant. My short answer to this is no. We actually need more people willing to set aside all the hustle and bustle of modern life and spend more time speaking face to face. The human next to you is so beautiful, so interesting and so intrinsically valuable that the best thing you could ever do is just speak with them.
However on a balancing argument. I would say that we should strive to make every interaction with employees and customers as relevant and personal as possible. So rather than sending that text, could you call them? Rather than sending that long confusing email, Could you send a personalized video? A limitless list of possibilities is blown wide open to us right now.
Choosing a communication strategy:
Technology has the power to multiply our voice. In many industries gone are the days of hand written reports books are a thing of the past and the file cabinets were kicked to the curb years ago. We are going thru the next big change in communication. The first major shift was when the telephone allowed people to communicate across the country. Then when email came out we could now send messages easily across the world. Now with the advent of social media and video conference software we can not only speak with but also meet with people from around the world.
As a company it is up to you to choose how you will encode and decode messages. I would encourage you to start thinking outside the box. When it comes to writing policy don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Take a look at what is available and adapt it to your context. Let’s take a look at some specific examples of where technology will help you learn more about your employees and be able to connect with them in deeper and more meaningful ways.
Using Social media:
In the past when small family run business was the standard. You could speak with every employee every day. In fact every employee could speak with everyone else and see how they were doing. Today, as companies consolidate and grow it can be hard to connect with your fellow employees and hear how everyone is doing. This is especially true of industries such as emergency services and truck drivers who check in at the beginning of a shift and hit the streets. One free tool available at your disposal is Facebook. Facebook now has private invitation only groups. This means that you could actually have a company wide or shift wide invitation only group where you could share the big wins of the day both at home and at work.
Now this could easily be abused. I will be the first to acknowledge that. There must be standards by which you measure what is acceptable and what is not. This platform can’t replace the managers speaking directly with employees. If you viewed this as a stand alone communication platform you are actually regressing. But what if you are the chief of a large department and as you walk down the hall you not only can greet your employee by name but also congratulate him on his new personal record bench press? Allowing your employees to share with each other allows you to get to know them better so you can connect with them faster and on a deeper level when you speak with them face to face.
Using video messaging:
Video is another powerful tool in your arsenal. Just think of the last emails that you sent out. Some email communication is simple. Do you want this or that, yes or no. Other messages though we spend more time typing. We are scared that we may not be truly getting everything across that we would like to. Take for example a notice of policy changes. Or a company wide email wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. These are a perfect time to use the power of video to your advantage. Spend a few minutes crafting your train of thought. Then simply press record and you can convey your message with the added help of body language and tone of voice.
The main challenges with video are making sure you have a good quality camera, low background noise and good lighting. However with the advances in technology it has never been more cost effective to turn on your smartphone camera and start recording. We are not aiming for movie quality here. In fact, when we make mistakes or our background is a little cluttered it just goes to endure you to your employees as they can see that you are human to.
I hope you have picked up on some new ideas. I look forward to hearing how you have chosen to implement technology in your workplace to better connect with your employees. Just remember that the addition of technology will never be a wrong choice as long as it only augments your communication strategies and does not replace you meeting them, speaking to them and personally showing them you care. Use technology to relate your humanity to others.
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Till next time, Keep crushing it.
Be awesome my friends,