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05 Mar, 2021

Event Recap: Effective Virtual Business Development and Communications

Nick Lane

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Event Recap  
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Read time: 1 minute, 55 seconds

In early February, SMPS DC joined with SMPS Twin Cities and SMPS Seattle to hear from Meg Winch of Communication Resources about how to be better virtual communicators. Proceeds from the event were donated to Girl Scouts of America. Before the keynote presentation, the nearly 200 attendees spent time in breakout rooms with members from across all three chapters to discuss the challenges of working through a pandemic and to share tips, tricks, and tools for connecting virtually. I personally benefitted from a new Minneapolis connection who shared her strategy of leveraging the chat feature during larger virtual events. After a few rotations of networking, Meg spent the next hour sharing why effective virtual communication is so important and how we can improve. Her presentation covered four learning objectives: communicating effectively as a speaker or participant; using technology to support messaging and audience engagement; incorporating interactive techniques; and looking and acting like an integrated team. In addition to the great content, Meg modeled best practices for each of these items during our time together.

In case anyone somehow needed to be convinced of the need for this timely event, a study was cited which states the average knowledge worker spends 6.5 hours/day in virtual meetings, yet 78% report dissatisfaction with the timing, content, and value. What an opportunity for marketers and business developers to stand out with excellent content and communication! It might be tempting to look forward to a time when we can do everything in person again, but Pandora’s Box is open and virtual presentations are here to stay. If we focus on improving these systems and skills now, it will improve the post-pandemic experience that much more.

To be the most effective and engaging communicator, it’s important to have the right mindset. Always remember: this is the most important thing you are doing and act accordingly. Act as though your camera is on, your mic is live, and your screen is shared. Meg even introduced us to the sticky-note-stick-figure she puts behind her webcam to help her maintain “eye contact” with the audience. Inability to meet in person can be seen as crippling, but technology provides opportunities to interact with the audience in new and engaging ways. During the event attendees were able to experience a virtual presentation board where participants can share ideas and collaborate in real time. Techniques and technologies like these can lead to what is ultimately one of the most overlooked aspects of virtual communication: presenting an integrated team. Implementing a “red team” to stay sharp for interviews and choreographing transitions and technology within your presentation are two strategies to foster a strong team dynamic.

A big thanks to Meg and to our fellow SMPS Chapters for a great event. We’re all looking forward to being together in person, but in the meantime, sit up straight and smile into the webcam!