Are Your Communication Skills On Ice?

September 10, 2020

“My eye contact has gotten worse.” 

After being home from college for five months, our son noticed this change one evening while working for a restaurant delivery service. It was an interesting observation from a 19-year-old – most teenagers don’t pay a lot of attention to this sort of thing. But he had been out on his own just long enough to decide to improve this communication skill. I assured him that with some effort and discipline, his eye contact would improve over time.  

It’s easy to let our communication skills slide as we connect via screens, emails, and phone calls.  The physicality of being in the same room together signals us to do things like maintain eye contact, speak clearly, and read the room to adjust our message and the direction of the meeting. 

It may seem like you can hide your communication deficits while working remotely, but you actually need to work even harder to connect with your audience through a screen or on the phone. In television news, it’s known as “coming through the camera.”   

Do you smile when you begin a meeting? 

Check your posture. Are you slouching, sitting back in your chair, appearing a bit too relaxed? 

Do you kick off video meetings with a clear message that sets the stage for the discussion? 

Are you directly speaking to what your audience cares about? Or do you feel all of this isn’t necessary because so many things have become more casual in the work from home world? 

The truth is audiences haven’t changed that much. They still need and expect to be thanked, to feel your energy and passion as you deliver a message, to have a clear idea of where the meeting or presentation is going. But most of all, they need to feel you connecting with them. You can’t fake it. It takes preparation, practice, and discipline - the same discipline you likely had in place before the pandemic sent workers home.   

Chances are you were in the midst of achieving a set of goals as a leader and communicator back in early March. And then the world changed. Many have not returned to their offices. A handwritten to-do list may still be on your desk, frozen in time, but your communication skills sure don’t have to be.

The team at Wixted & Company can help thaw out your skills and warm up those countless video calls on your calendar.   

By: Lauri Freking

Lauri combines her wealth of training experience with her journalism background to provide fresh perspectives and customized training for executives in the energy, electric utility, manufacturing, healthcare and retail industries.