Once upon a time in a parallel universe far far away there was a tiny young hen called Chicken Very Little.
She was the niece of her more famous aunt known as Chicken Little.
Auntie Chicken Little’s claim to fame was that she had once warned the planet that the sky was falling in.
This was after she’d been hit on the head by an acorn dropping from an oak tree.
Chicken Little later learned important lessons about communications in the aftermath of the acorn experience.
These lessons involved verifying carefully what she said before she told everyone else.
She also came to understand that unverified inaccurate bad news can travel faster than the speed of light – and unnecessarily traumatise many along the way.
So Chicken Little gained an appreciation of how important it was to be – within the bounds of truth, of course – as positive as realistically possible when talking about important things like the future!
Alas Chicken Little had not yet gotten around to passing on these lessons to her niece.
Late one evening Chicken Very Little was pecking around the edge of the forest next to the farm run by Colonel Sanders.
The colonel – not known for his chicken-friendly practices – was winding down after a long day by sipping his Corona Beer.
When he’d drained the bottle, he threw it over the fence.
It hit Chicken Very Little on the head – leaving her seriously dazed.
Chicken Very Little was recovered by her aunt and taken into something auntie called “Lockdown” where she was nurtured back towards good health.
During Lockdown, Chicken Very Little hallucinated about subconscious memories of that Corona bottle crashing down – and at times, in her state of delirium, she thought the whole sky was falling upon her.
After her recovery, she was about to leave the coop for the first time since the incident when the local news website phoned to interview her.
In time-honoured family tradition Chicken Very Little did as she was genetically programmed to do.
She told the journalist: “The Sky Is Falling In,” adding “It’s all the fault of Corona.”
The website subsequently ran the headline “Corona Causes Sky To Fall In, says Chicken Very Little, As She Comes Out Of Lockdown.”
Everyone on the planet became alarmed.
There’s more on Chicken Very Little later…
ZOOMING FORWARDS LOCKDOWN
Meanwhile, in another universe, inhabitants were also coming out of Lockdown related to a very different form of Corona.
Companies were busy communicating about what they would be doing as Lockdown eased.
Some communicated effectively and positively – informing staff, clients, prospects and members of the public the important things they needed to know about the new situation.
Others were struggling with their communications challenges and needed help.
Some found help at: http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/
In certain industries there was confidence that the popularity of a relatively new thing – which had helped many people stay connected during Lockdown – would also assist them in the new lockdown-easing world.
This was the idea of running of training sessions and conferences through online hook-ups – using Zoom and other similar platforms such as Teams, Google Hangouts, Skype etc.
In the training and conference industries there was confidence that Zoom sessions would help them do business in the new post-lockdown world which lay ahead – at least until Covid-19 was vanquished.
A KEY LESSON OF ZOOM
I’ve been involved in many Zoom and Zoom-like sessions over the past few weeks – and before.
There’s one thing I’ve learned, in particular, to help make sure you get the best communications outcomes and experiences you’re seeking.
It can be summed up in a few simple words: “Beware of the Zoom ‘chat’ function – and use it with careful planning if you decide to involve it at all.”
It’s fine to use the written chat message system where you’re having a general verbal discussion about the way forward.
But it can potentially get in the way of someone trying to run a verbally-focused learning session.
There’s one chairman of a business leaders’ group in Yorkshire, who hosts multitudinous Zoom learning and problem-solving sessions, and who completely bans the use of chat in his sessions.
Just as teachers in a classroom find it disruptive to their lesson if the pupils are passing notes or exchanging mobile phone messages, the chat function can take the focus off the important verbal interactions.
But if you do want to have chat running during the session, there’s one thing can help.
So as not to distract the person in the spotlight at any time, it’s good to have a tech-savvy colleague either being the chair – or assisting the chair – to monitor the chat.
This person can have a “license” to intervene in the conversation as it progresses by saying helpful things like: “Mary has a pertinent question” or “Let’s listen to an idea George wants to put forward”.
My suggestion to those who book Zoom sessions of “Great Answers To Tough Corona Questions”, “Clever Corona Communications” and other communications-boosting sessions is to have such a tech-savvy person involved to perform this role.
If needs be, I can provide a colleague to perform the chat-facilitating role – to help ensure things run smoothly.
This enables me to focus 100% on the participants and what they’re saying verbally – without written distractions – and maximise the help I can give.
ZOOM IN ACTION
By the way, this is what a Zoom session can look like on screen – with this photo kindly provided by the Vistage business leaders’ group network.
In this particular session, the chairman – David Brient -managed the session deftly in a way that enabled me, as the speaker, to focus entirely on helping the members formulate and refine their great answers.
You can read David Brient’s testimonial which followed the session at the foot of this column in blue.
If you’d like to discuss how a communications-boosting session could work for you or your team – either on-line or face-to-socially-distanced-face – then email firstname.lastname@example.org to line up a call.
CHICKEN VERY LITTLE – THE UPDATE
Meanwhile, back in that parallel universe, Chicken Very Little was being briefed by her auntie to get her ready for re-entering the post-Corona world.
“There’s one thing you need to know before you go back outside, Chicken Very Little” she said.
“Despite your Corona encounter, the sky is still in place and it’s definitely not falling in.”
And sure enough, when Chicken Very Little ventured out, the sky remained intact, exactly as she’d always known it to be.
And Chicken Very Little lived happily ever after.
YOUR GLORIOUS FUTURE – DESPITE THE CHALLENGES
Meanwhile as we ease our way out of Lockdown in this universe, if you ever fear that the economic Sky is falling in, remember the lessons of Chicken Very Little and her aunt.
In all probability, the Sky will remain exactly where it should be.
There will be swirling clouds and the threat of lightning strikes.
But careful, accurate and realistically positive communication about what lies ahead can help you and your team ride back to where you want your organisation to be.
If you need any help – online or, socially-distanced, face-to-face – to keep your communications on track along the way, do get in touch.
And you, too, can live happily ever after.
Testimonial from Vistage Chair, David Brient:
“Michael delivered an outstanding session for my group of CEOs today; he specifically tailored the session to be Covid 19 relevant content, and what we also did was compress the timeframe to one hour. This delivered incredibly high impact learning and immediately useful content in shortest time possible for the busy learners on the zoom. We also gave the option for some to stay on to gain more personal feedback on their responses to their difficult question, which added huge value. Michael demonstrated incredible mastery of his subject and gave world class coaching tips in the moment to ensure everyone who attended took away something of immediate value. I cannot recommend this approach more highly at this time as all our leaders may stand or fall on how well they master the skill of answering the most difficult questions that may come from employees, customers or investors.”