My learnings from the course ‘Communication Strategies for a Virtual Age (University of Toronto)’
My learnings from Module 2
How to schedule effective meetings
Communication can be ineffective, too many meetings leads to lower productivity and this tends to happen in larger companies
1. Clear purpose for everyone attending the meeting.
Each person should have something to do, so that everyone is actively participating and involved/listening
2. Unreasonable time constraints for each person to speak, plan for a longer time
This will force them to be highly effective with their time, and they’ll spend more time preparing and eliciting the most valuable and important content
3. Preallocate Homework for each person
This makes everyone attentive and ready
Notes on quality conversation turn taking
The most effective teams and the most effective meetings happen when everyone in that meeting created rules for how to communicate. So they would do things like this before we’re done, everyone has to go around the room and say why they agree or disagree. Or they said, when we introduce every idea, whoever introduces the idea, must also introduce why the idea doesn’t work. Or both those elements or they would make everyone close their eyes and lift their hands up for your name.
Setting rules of engagement allow for effective communication
You need to create a safe environment
So let’s go back to the virtual world. Ten minutes before the meeting starts, have a question on your first slide that everyone has to comment in and literally say “Please comment in the comment box, answer this question.” Then maybe give them “Also respond to everyone else’s questions.” Sometimes before meeting starts, my very first slide will just be a link with instructions. Go to this link, watch this video and then comment agree or disagree. Why? Please read this article before the meeting starts. Please go to this website and do these three things. I’ll explain why when we start. Giving people a task to do is one way that you set the tone. It also makes sure that when people come into the meeting before the meeting starts, they’re already working, they’re already working towards something. It creates a dynamic environment because before the meeting starts, people are already working. By doing that, you’re setting the tone. You’re creating that psychological safety.
allowing people to break into groups and discuss in smaller groups allows for safety of opinion and inclusion. USE UNREASONABLE TIME CONSTRAINT
I feel like scheduling effective meetings is the most important concept that I’ve learnt in these two videos as it not only applies to videos but my work process as well. For example, when I allocate time to study, I need to have a clear purpose beforehand, i.e plan out why I need to do this and why it is important right now, I need to set an unreasonable time constraint while planning for a longer time so that I try to be as efficient with my time and energy as possible, and I need to have some homework, even if it’s just planning or thinking about the work so that I’m engaged as soon as I get into the ‘work zone’
How to keep people (or yourself) attentive interested and active
- rhetorical questions- the fact that a question is being asked gets peoples attention, good for transitioning into ideas. “Use the next question is. Now that we know A and we know B, the next question is, what can we do about it? The next question is, how do we get there?”
- Then ask an action question, which forces them to do some kind of physical activity. A show of hands, count people in the room etc.
How to stop a conversation/ presentation from derailing due to a question.
Here is how most questions function in the real world. You ask me a question, I answer the question, you and I have a conversation, everyone else in the room stops listening. That is even worse in a virtual world. In a teleconference, or video conference, you and I start having an audio conversation, people literally will just start doing other things until they hear the conversation stop. So part one is rephrasing or restating that question, and getting an opinion. So every time someone asks me a question, I restated in my own words, or I repeat the question, but then I ask, “How many of you would agree? How many of you have that same question?” Getting that physical action.
So here’s how you do it. This is right out of the Apple genius training manual. Feel, felt, found. Feel, felt is just empathy. It’s saying, “I understand how you feel. I also had that exact same question.” But it’s taking it a step further. Don’t just say, “Oh, I can see how you could have that question, I also have a question,” that doesn’t say anything. Spend three or four sentences exploring where that question came from. You know what? I can see how you had that question because when I was designing this workflow, I had the exact same question, I was saying to myself, “Isn’t this just going to take more time?” I also felt that way. What you’re saying to the room is if this person is sceptical, you’re also that sceptical person, and yet still you are convinced. So the impression you’re making is that yet still you were convinced. So you use to feel, felt, and then you get to the last part found. “You know what? I also have a question. I thought will this workflow make things longer not shorter? What I found is when we tested it, on average workflow was shorter.” Found is evidence. Found is saying, “This is not my opinion.” Found is saying, “Here are the results, so I have to have this opinion.
The last part is relate. Relate means go back to your first point. Always have the last thing you say, or call back to the one thing you want them to remember. That is how you respond to questions. One, repeat or rephrase it, and ask for an opinion. Two, respond using feel, felt, found. Three, relate to your key point, your key action. Following those three elements will make sure that you always answer questions effectively. Using this three-step process will make sure that every time someone asks you a question, by the time you’re done, everyone else in that whole room is just going to be even more on your side. That is how you answer questions effectively.