Living in an online world
Last weekend was my turning point. The day it all changed.
On Saturday I was thinking about my Sunday, and looking forward to visiting with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who are both in their 70’s, for Sunday lunch. In the morning I was due to play bass guitar in the worship band at my local church when it dawned on me.
My current plan involved spending the morning with over 200 other people in my local church, and then going directly to visit with two people who were considered to be at high risk of being seriously affected by this growing pandemic should they contract the virus. That didn’t seem to be a wise plan of action.
I then thought ahead to an event that I was running the following Tuesday evening as Regional President of the Staffordshire region of the Professional Speaking Association. Bookings for the event has slowed and I suspected that people would be leaving any event bookings until nearer the time to see how the world looked then.
After some initial discussion with the people due to speak at the PSA event on Tuesday to establish whether they would be prepared to deliver their message online instead, I mad the decision to cancel the physical meeting and take it online.
Oh, and before that I contacted the band to let them know that I would not be able to play on Sunday morning, and went ahead with Sunday lunch with my family.
The online PSA event seemed to go pretty well, and it turns out that it was the first PSA event to be replaced with an online version. The format became the model that was subsequently used for other PSAonline events which were all soon replaced with an online version across the country.
I have been living partially in an online world for many years, since I have been working on the leadership team of an international group who are spread across several continents. Our meetings need to facilitate time-zones in the USA, the UK and Australia, and negotiate the Daylight savings events where the UK and the US change at different times, and Australia change at yet another time and in the opposite direction!
The online world has a lot of similarity with the physical world, and yet some subtle differences. They each have their own culture which is very similar yet quite different, rather as the UK , the US and Australia are all very similar in many ways, yet are significantly different in others.
Here are some tips for preparation and etiquette when preparing to interact with others in an online environment.
- Familiarise yourself with how to mute/un-mute your mic, start/stop your camera, and using chat
- Think carefully about your background (eg install a roller blind)
- Do everything you can to minimise any disruptions – they are louder to others than to you
- Close all other apps where possible, and use any “do not disturb” features on your device
- Position yourself with lighting from behind the camera
- Mute when not talking, and speak to the camera, not to the screen
- Be cautious when entering a conversation, the dynamics are different than in physical meetings
- Make sure to allow space for others to enter a conversation
- When typing into chat, double-check what you’ve typed before pressing “enter”
- Don’t eat or drink with the video/mic on, and type quietly!
My preferred environment has been to use zoom.us for online meetings, although there are many platforms available and more arriving to take advantage of this online world we now inhabit.
If you are new to Zoom then please head over to zoom.us, download the application, and create a free account. Apps are available for PC, Mac, smartphones and tablets from wherever you usually download your apps. Please make yourself familiar with the basic elements of the Zoom app before we meet on Tuesday, in particular how to mute your audio, how to switch your camera on and off (if you have one), and how to use the chat room. You’ll also notice that on the top right of the application window there is an option to toggle between “Gallery View” and “Speaker View”. I usually find that Gallery View is best when we are chatting as a group and Speaker View is better when listening to a presentation.
Another great tool for the online world is mentimeter.com, which is an online presentation software platform similar to PowerPoint, and provides all sorts of extra audience interaction features such as online polls, wordclouds, voting and many more.
In the online world it is just as important to keep yourself safe as it is in the physical world, so remember to keep that in mind in your online experiences. Embrace and enjoy the online world, it is quickly becoming part of our new “normal”!
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.