Navigating a new work life of telecommuting as the world adjusts to a new (and temporary) normal in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic likely has you in the same position as countless other professionals around the globe right now. So many companies have made changes to how they get work done, and your work schedule likely has you using platforms such as Zoom, WebEx, GotoWebinar, or GotoMeeting more frequently than ever before. You know talking to colleagues by looking into a camera simply doesn’t feel the same as talking to colleagues by looking them in the eyes. However, know this: you can be just as impactful online as you are in-person. Here’s how: remember to never say these three things in your web-based meetings and presentations (or anywhere else), and you set-up yourself to sound and look confident. Guaranteed.
Never say …
1. “I know I’m all over the place” or “I know this doesn’t make sense.”
When you say this, you make it clear that you know you have let down your listener; you know you have not done the best job you can to be an effective communicator. Furthermore, if you know you can be “all over the place,” then be proactive.
Take some time to mentally craft an agenda or a quick list of headlines beforehand, and follow them as you speak.
This way, not only does it help your listener easily follow your thoughts, but it also keeps you on track and makes you sound and appear prepared and poised.
Never say …
2. “I’m sorry; I know that’s a lot of information.” (This statement is usually accompanied by a soft chuckle or a slight smile from the speaker.)
This negatively impacts your overall presence in a number of ways.
First, you said this because you know you did something wrong. (Isn’t that when you usually hear “I’m sorry” from someone—when that person made a misstep?) You said “I’m sorry” because you know you slipped-up and delivered an information dump, which is wholly ineffective.
Second, the statement adds nothing of value to you or your image and calls attention to a lack of preparation.
Third, the statement does not make you appear impressive. Be honest; when you say “I’m sorry; I know that’s a lot of information,” you really are not feeling apologetic for what you did. The fact is you want them to embrace the “a lot of information” part because you think this flood of information makes you look impressive—subconsciously or otherwise. You want to come off as really knowledgeable by dumping all that information on your listener(s). “I’m sorry; I know that’s a lot of information” is code for “Wowee! Look at me! And look at how much I know!” which—newsflash!—is in no way remarkable (in a good way) to your audience.
Finally, no one wants “a lot of information,” which equates to an information dump. Your listeners does not want to drink from a firehose when you present. They want to take manageable sips, receiving chunks of information at reasonable intervals with opportunities to think about what that information means and how they can use it.
What your listeners want is an organized presentation of content that anyone can easily follow and remember long after they finish engaging with you.
Forbes senior contributor, Carmine Gallo reminds us that “any opportunity to face [a listener] is an opportunity to lift them to another level ….” To dump disorganized loads of information does not lift your listeners to another level.
What do you do instead? Easy. First, stop saying “I’m sorry; I know that’s a lot of information,” then see number 1 above.
Never say …
3. “For those of you who don’t know me ….”
Does this suggest everyone should know you? Or is your intent to introduce yourself to only those who do not know you? And for those who don’t know you, are you saying they’re losers? Listen. I know that’s not what you’re thinking when you say that; however, what in the world does that phrase mean, and why use it? Could the problem be you do not know what to say and are trying to come up with a clever way to introduce yourself? How about this? Simply state “My name is ___.” Period.
You are your brand, so it does not matter if people already know you or not; always announce yourself, and put the power in your name that it deserves.
It’s branding. I cannot say (or write) it enough. Every time you see or hear a commercial for a national or international brand, you see the name of that brand or the logo, and you had best believe the brand name or logo is not coupled with “For those of you who don’t know [insert brand name].” (I’m giving you the classic “see what I mean” look right now.)
Using confident, clear speech, consistently say who you are, and that’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.