Last week here at the blog I shared the first of eight skill areas which are important in virtual facilitation - Setting the Context.
Today we look at another Skill area - Communication. At the heart of great conversations is this skill set which I break down to:
Let's look briefly at each one (and a reminder that I go into much greater depth in chapter 3 of EVC):
Listening: Depending on the type of virtual conversation platform we are using listening can be enhanced or deepened by other senses - such as seeing when we are on a streaming call.
Listening is a skill set which may not be as well developed. Communication is not only what is being said but how we interpret it. How are you listening?
Here are some questions to consider from my Teams365 blog:
As you consider your own listening skills right now, reflect on these questions:
Inquiry and Reflection - The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook notes "Two types of skill are central to this work: they are reflection (slowing down our thinking processes to become more aware of how we form our mental models) and inquiry (holding conversations where we openly share views and develop knowledge about each other's assumptions)" (pp 77, Senge et al)
What are you doing to build in inquiry and reflection into your design - for example - not trying to fit too much into calls or
Reading the environment - When you spend time in the virtual space you begin to notice the energy of a call. Some feel as if the air has been sucked out while others pass like the blink of an eye. As we'll see in other posts (and throughout the book) masterful virtual facilitators "read the room" and are adept at using questions, and pace changes, to adjust.
Questioning - Questions form the backbone to any great conversation, and in the arena of communication questions are a virtual facilitators ally. Key things to keep in mind:
Use open ended questions (starting with What) to invite people into the conversation
Be aware that HOW questions will
Keep them short - 5-7 words only
Watch how many questions you are asking at once. More than one or two and you may notice the silence on the other side which could indicate - what are they asking?
Avoid Why questions until there are high levels of trust. Why questions often put people on the defense.
Pace and Pitch - the final area I wanted to touch on in this post is getting you to think about the pace you want to set in your virtual call. Consider the individuals you are working wtih. Are they quick paced? Do they appreciate a reflective pause?
How are you using silence to allow people to think, and reflect?
What are you doing to change the way people engage - i.e. using visuals or breakouts or annotation. I cover many of these questions in community calls, as well as my monthly newsletter for Effective Virtual Conversation enthusiasts.
Consider: What's the best pace and pitch for this group?
Over the next month or two I’ll be exploring some of the many skills housed in these eight areas. For more on this you may want to check out my January 2018 Community Call, as well as Chapter 3 of Effective Virtual Conversations where I explore these skills more in-depth.
Out of the five skills I have highlighted today, which ones are your strengths? What can you do to leverage these more? Which one would you like to put more attention around?
Have a great week,
Potentials Realized | Coaching Team Leaders
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Join Effective Virtual Conversations Author Jennifer Britton for regular posts to spark your ideas and conversations virtually! Jennifer is the author of five books including her latest PlanDoTrack.
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