Turning on our cameras is not as simple as we think. It is, for many, as hard as being told to jump off a cliff and fly. When someone was once told to “Have more gravitas” — that was like being told to jump off a cliff and fly. Asking a Japanese woman to be louder and confident — counter-cultural to what her seniors expect of her — that is was being told to jump off a cliff and fly. It is my job to give people tools to stand tall, speak well and amplify themselves so they can be confident. And it is confidence that enables the “gravitas” and the “be louder” to happen.
When we are asking people to turn their cameras on, it is exactly the same problem. Why? Because turning our cameras on is giving people permission to look into our rooms, the places that used to be our private spaces. If they are looking they may be judging, if they are judging they may be writing you off, if they are doing that … well it is a lot easier to keep the camera off, the barriers up and surely we can just get the meeting done … right? It doesn’t affect anyone, does it?
Except it does. It is eroding our ability to connect.
Speaking in public was the no.1 fear in the US before Covid19 hit — being exposed, being real to a bunch of strangers — we learnt in the school playground that wasn’t a very good idea. Then Covid19 made the playground digital, took all our fears and magnified them, added another layer — a screen, literally, to what was already there and invited us to hide a little more.
I can hide behind my screen. No one can make me turn the camera on. How is that working out for you? Do you feel connected?
Maybe the school playground was NOT a safe space and maybe we learnt it all wrong. Maybe it IS a good idea to be real, to be vulnerable. But maybe we accepted that speaking in public belongs to the extraverts and we drew back a little. Maybe it’s time to change. Because this thing is here to stay.
Maybe it’s time to not be a prisoner to the norm, but to creating something new. Maybe it is time to fight for connection. Just like I give tools to my clients to be able to stand tall and speak confidently so they can bring themselves truly to the room, maybe we need some tools to enable us to connect confidently. Once we have seen it works, just like seeing that standing tall makes a difference then we can start to, step by step, bring those tools and ourselves to those meetings, so that turning on the camera will be our next normal, will be the smallest thing we do.
So how do we do it? Here are 7 steps that if you take will change you, your story, your meetings and the people around 1.
- You have to know your story, your 2.5 minute “how did I get here”. It needs a beginning, middle and an end. That’s it.
- You have to tell your story regularly wherever you can, in safe spaces and then not-so safe spaces. Stanford say a story is 22 times more memorable than a fact. A powerpoint full of jargon never really lit anyone up.
- Once you know your “how did I get here” story, you need to apply this to your business. Tell the story of how your business got here and the problem it is solving. It has to have a beginning, middle and end. Adrenaline will kick in and tell you that you must use jargon, forget there is a story and fill your presentation with useless powerpoints. Adrenaline is a LIER and must be controlled. We have ways to do this (see our resources below). One simple way is to force yourself to tell a 2.5 minute story with … yes you guessed it … a beginning, middle and end. If you create a new habit the old one will have less room to breathe.
- Come armed to your online meetings with these stories. You may never use them, you may get interrupted, but you are ready. If you are ready your camera will be turned on, because you know that to connect you must tell a story and you must show your face.
- Get used to the feeling of being ready and then leap in, whenever you can, with … a story. Sniff out the stories that will make the point better than the power point. And tell them, with a beginning, middle and end. In 30 seconds, in 2.5 minutes, in 25 minutes. There is nothing powerful about a bunch of words and no human face.
- When telling stories to your customers (internal or external) you will notice the energy lacking in the rest of the meeting. It will get under your skin and you will want to take control … not of the meeting but the energy. This is good. You are becoming an advocate for energy, connection. You will start asking people to turn their cameras on (and forget it is like asking them to jump off a cliff and fly). Then you will get creative. You will try a few times to get people to open up. You will fail, learn and try again.
- Be relentless. A vaccine is coming but the screen is still the future. So get creative. Bit by bit, person by person, unwind people from their fears and allergies to screen, draw out the story-tellers. Be the unofficial head of great screen culture. Don’t give up. It is an uphill climb, but we were made for climbing uphill.
Here are 2 resources to help you on the way:
Pocketcoach Global is 23 minutes of digital training on how to show up on screen with a great story and how to deliver it. Watch, think, do. If you want more than just digital, get in touch and we will coach you — from video coaching to live coaching, from individuals to entire companies.
Our 1 minute warm up will do just that — warm you up for the screen like an athlete warms themselves up for a race.