Speak Up for the Environment Online!
12 Tips to help you deliver online a compelling message with Impact
Speaking up for environmental matters always carries important messages for an audience to remember, this challenge is significantly more difficult online. An essential component of Environmental Leadership is the ability to deliver online compelling messages and direction. When engaging with work colleagues in virtual meetings. Take time to consider how you can improve on the online impact with which you deliver a compelling message. This will help raise your online impact, the retention of your message and visual presence amongst the audience.
Developing your speaking and presentation skills online are an important component of modern management. I recommend that you focus first on three key aspects – Setting, Appearance, and Delivery.
COVID-19 caught the world unprepared, and we suddenly dispersed from our business premises into our homes through the lockdown. The multiple conversations that operational environmental and HSE professionals have daily will have dropped. You have probably participated in meetings with close work colleagues and managers over the last few months, now is the time to start raising your game as your messages need to travel wider in the organisation.
Since February-March, you have probably switched to online communication and homeworking. It is likely that many of you with multiple site responsibilities were already familiar with online meetings. The form of online communication not only provides a rapid, lower carbon, and effective way of working. It also presents new challenges when seeking to advance environmental and sustainability messages.
How to deliver a compelling online message?
How do you deliver a compelling online message?
Many of the communication skills we learn as our careers advance will still be valid. However, when speaking through microphones and from behind a monitor new issues arise. Practising these different skills when delivering online environmental messages will improve your overall leadership communication skills. These new skills lie in three key areas: Setting, Appearance, and Delivery.
I recommend that you try out the following tips:
- Set your device at a proper distance and height. This ensures that your facial expressions and your upper body gestures can be well perceived. Position yourself strategically in the centre of the screen.
- Avoid having the camera look up or down at your face. This is an old media trick that either makes the speaker look domineering (up view) or defenceless (down view).
- Ensure there is enough light on your face. Backlighting may shade any emotion and shadow your face. The best solution is an LED light in front, illuminating your face.
- When delivering from home, inform other family members in advance that you are going to be online, so they don’t accidentally disrupt your message or add distracting background noises. It also helps to remove them from the internet to maximise your online bandwidth!
- Similar to giving an in-person message at work, take care to look fresh and professional in front of your online camera.
- Dress in appropriate attire for your upper body at least. Your audience does not know if you are barefooted and in shorts. Your audience may have decided to dress casually, but there is no reason to minimise your impact and gravitas through a Hawaiin shirt!
- If you wear glasses, ensure the reflection of your device screen or other light source does not block your eyes. If your audience only sees a bright shiny pair of glasses on your face instead of a bright shiny pair of eyes, how can they stay engaged?
- When you speak, look directly at the camera, not at the people on the screen. Imagine your entire audience is sitting right behind it.
- In front of a device, your stage may be too small to move around, but you can still use gestures and some body movement. Facial expressions are critically important in reinforcing your message. There are some advantages when you speak facing a computer. For example, you can zoom in and out by moving yourself closer to or further away from the camera to dramatise your online speech.
- Lastly, if you want to use or refer to notes, you can place them near the camera. Instead of looking away from your audience for your key points, you can now look directly at them. For example, I hang my words over the screen itself or place Post-it Notes with action topics around my camera which sits on the PC. Other colleagues drape w preloaded I-Pads over the screen as they talk. These actions help allows you to maintain eye contact with your audience while reading from your notes without distracting the audience’s concentration.
- Finally, work on your message. It is easier to lose track of time when speaking on line. Presentations, messages and even conversational points tend to take 20% longer to deliver for some reason – also online audiences have the same patience and attention span they may have at work.
- Prepare your words carefully and go straight in with power; don’t dilute them with redundant grammatical introductions or phrases. Hone in your main point, explain why it is essential to you or the audience, and justify the environmental, sustainability and business linkage behind your message. Repetition of key points also helps embed the main action points in your final summary lines.
Online Meetings – The New Normal
In the future, we are likely to conduct more business through online meetings. This move towards greater digital communication routes further underlines the necessity of developing your speaking and presentation skills online and within AV meetings. Start considering it as an essential part of your role and as a critical communication route through the organisation. Try experimenting and incorporate more innovative elements into your online delivery. For example, through the addition of short audio clips to back up your key message, while adding a visual component into your word. Some online packages allow for breakout rooms – use them to enable your audience to debate how they will comply, support or exceed your environmental goals. At the least, you need to work on being able to deliver your messages with leadership presence.
The delivery of an environmental or sustainability message that requires organisational change across to colleagues is never easy. Delivering one online as a compelling message with impact is even harder. With these tips in mind, you will be able to deliver a message online effectively, and who knows what future creative ideas your mind will come up with next to deliver on that Big-Hairy Audacious Green Goal!
This article draws upon elements of Leading Green’s strategic speaking and presentation skills online training and coaching modules – Strategic Communication Skills – Getting your message across and Influencing without Authority – Up, Down and Across! I am also indebted to current best practice online advice contained within the Toastmasters International newsletter. Contact us for further details about how to deliver online a compelling environmental or sustainability message with impact.