Master Business Communication in a Crisis

The #1 key to lessen chaos, strengthen relationships, and lead virtually.

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JGI/Tom Grill / Getty Images
JGI/Tom Grill / Getty Images

These are scary and uncertain times. Safety is of utmost importance and limiting face-to-face contact will continue to be necessary for an indefinite period of time. Conferences will remain cancelled and companies will continue to be run remotely. That means many whose livelihood depends on speaking or doing business in person will now need to quickly adjust to maintaining results in a virtual world that’s evolving.  

As an Emmy nominated former T.V. producer (“Oprah” and “Anderson”) and an elite communication coach, I train people for high stakes moments in media, on stage and in business. I’m getting questions about this new virtual reality and I want to help. 

I can tell you successfully making this shift is important and it is possible.

You can be an effective leader virtually and in times of crisis. You can successfully adapt and regain a feeling of control. This is an opportunity to strengthen relationships (and create new ones) that will best position you during the coming weeks and for years to come.  

Let’s begin with the number one key to effective communication:

Meet people where they are to take them where you want them to go.

What does that mean?

It means you must meet your audience (one or many) where they are in their life before you can be effective in forwarding your agenda. You want to lead a mutual win.  

Here are my top five strategies to do that virtually right now:

Listen. Listen to the news. Do your best to stay on top of this quickly changing crisis so your timing and content is not inappropriate. Listen to your audience. What does your audience feel? What does your audience need and want? During uncertain times in particular, people have competing priorities, are on edge and are anxious. Recognize that lunging straight into your agenda won’t work. Lead with empathy. Keep listening. People will remember how you make them feel. 

Give. Give with an open hand. Getting through the next few weeks will be hard. How can you help your audience? Perhaps it’s something concrete like easing up on an assignment. Or perhaps it’s showing kindness and understanding. Be a giver. 

Simplify. Prioritize what’s most important and keep it short. That means prepare in advance and show respect for your audience by simplifying your message. Simple messages lessen confusion and better allow people to deliver results.

Connect to humanity. Human beings crave connection. Being isolated runs counter to that need. Storytelling helps build connective fiber which you need to move people to action. A funny (humor defuses tension) or warm anecdote and positivity will go a long way toward putting people in a mindset to take the action necessary to maintain business.

Interact. Be interactive with your audience and encourage your audience to interact with each other. That way people know they need to be accountable and will be less likely to tune out or multitask. An involved audience is more likely to focus on what needs to get done.

One of the most gratifying aspects of my business is helping people control their own destiny quickly through effective speech. High impact transformation does not have to take long. If you follow the number one principle for effective communication and these five execution strategies, you will set the stage for greatness now and on the other side of this challenging time. 

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