Lockdown doesn’t need to be a disaster for communication, or an excuse for poor quality presentations. There are plenty of ways for us to still be engaging and impactful, even at a distance. Of course, normally you thrive on live feedback, on thinking on your feet and external stimuli and, of course, much of this is lacking in lockdown – Zoom can only give us so much camaraderie.
So everything from energy levels to our bank of reliable topics can become pretty depleted over these many months at home and on camera. Enthusiasm is so important to successful speaking; so is variation and novelty when engaging with people you would like to influence. How can we keep our speaking fresh when so many days feel like so many others?
First and foremost, the trick is to keep your mental health straight. Keep a routine, I’m a big fan of taking some exercise and getting outside everyday. Also, if you enjoy a tidy and organised work space, make sure you declutter yours and keep in touch with others, we are all in the same boat and sharing experiences can really help. These small things can make a big difference. By keeping your mental health on a level, you’ll of course free up a lot of your energy for more productive tasks like communicating well when you have to.
The first thing that can challenge your speaking during lockdown is starting to lose your thread. Structure your thoughts. Keep a diary, jot down and work up topics to keep your teams interested; play with structures and phrases for each of these. In other words, keep thinking,
You can also use some time to practice your breathing and modulation: record yourself speaking and be brutally honest with what you find. Learn to vary your voice and control your breath better; the people you talk to will notice the difference.
Next, if you find yourself with free time, watch some great speakers on You Tube or read some great books. Find speakers you admire and emulate the parts of their delivery you can relate to. Your ‘homework’ will find its way into your communication, both in terms of subject matter and style: after all, the more stories we watch and read, the better we get at telling them.
In other words, you can keep your speaking fresh by keeping yourself fresh. Take care of yourself during lockdown, and your communication should follow. You might also consider getting a coach during this time – and if you do think you need a bit of a refresher, shouldn’t we be talking?