Manageable Guides

Expert views on topics relevant to all leaders and teams.

Edie Lush is a journalist and communication trainer. She's also an expert in digital communication. This is a very practical guide outlining how to best meet over the screen, so important these days. She helps you find out more about what the best set-up is, what physical and vocal techniques are most helpful, and how to communicate in a way that is memorable. Whether you need to inspire your team or a client, this guide will help you.

I'm Edie Lush. I'm a journalist, an MC, and a communication trainer. I have lived in the UK for over 20 years. I originally came to be a political analyst for UBS, I then went to Bloomberg Television and covered politics and economics, currencies and bonds. So all of these skills have made me an expert in digital communication. So why is digital communication so important for managers? Well, we are going to be meeting over the screen a lot more in the future. This means we're going to be pitching for business over screen, we're going to be meeting investors over the screen, we're going to be talking to our teams over screens. All of this means we need the skills to be incredibly good digital communicators. I'm Edie Lush and this is my Manageable Guide to digital communication.

Good communication is all about building relationships, whether it's in person or over the screen. I would encourage you, as managers as business leaders, to embrace this new hybrid world, to learn the skills that you need to communicate over screens because it'll help you be a better leader, it'll help you manage your teams better, and it'll help you inspire those that you work with. So I'm going to show you some of the ways that you can improve your digital communication skills. So in this digital world, we all have to think about setting up our own studio. Think about your lighting, make sure you're lit from the front, put your computer up high enough so that you're looking directly into the camera. On my computer, I'm looking into the green dot. Keep your eye on that green dot most of the time when you're speaking to make eye contact over screen. Looking at the camera is the only way to really build that relationship over the screen. Next, your background. The plainer the background, the better. The less cluttered the background, the more the audience will concentrate on what you're saying. It helps the audience focus on what your message is.

So first, we have to get really comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. The nerves have a point, they get you ready, but sometimes they are not helpful. So we need some techniques to help us come across as more comfortable and confident. If you keep using them, you will eventually also feel more confident and comfortable. So let's go through the physical and vocal techniques. If you're sitting at your desk communicating to your team, think about where you are in position to the desk. First, I want you to push yourself away from the desk, bring yourself halfway up your chair, give your shoulders a really big rub back and down. You're a puppet on a string. So pull yourself up really tall. No head tilting. Once you're there, I want you to use your hands. Imagine you are cutting through butter or pushing your arm through water. When you're on screen it's very difficult if you're seeing the hands out in front. So think about keeping your arms back towards you, but you do want to see those hands in motion. So for really big digital meetings with your investors, your clients, your team, stand up. You'll find that you have more energy when you're up on your hind legs. The testosterone levels start to go up, your ability to take risks and the cortisol levels, the stress hormones start to go down. You'll find you are much more able to deal with tougher questions, things you weren't expecting. Standing up will really help you during digital meetings to keep that energy up and keep the audience engaged.

Now, for the vocal techniques. First vocal technique is volume. Raise your voice a little bit louder than you think it needs to be. Why? When we speak with more volume, we can get those lower notes that we know are more trustworthy and make us more likeable. We know we can't have physical energy without vocal energy and we can't have vocal energy without volume. Next technique is emphasis. When I work with people one on one, sometimes I get them to emphasise every word. Emphasis slows you down. It gives you loads more thinking time, for the audience on the other side of that screen it's the difference between you wanting them to hear this and you just wanting to rush straight past it. Pausing is my favourite vocal technique. My rule is, pause three times more often than you think you need to for three times as long. It can feel like an eternity. But in reality, it's quite often just a millisecond.

Final technique is to throw your voice. If you imagine the vowels are a river, and the consonants are the banks of the river, that's how you get out of being so monotone. It's very difficult to interrupt somebody, even if they're choosing to pause, if they're using their voice and using the full vocal range. If you embrace these techniques, as a manager, you'll be able to see more engagement from your team. So once you've cracked the physical and vocal techniques, how are you going to make your messages land? How are you going to make them memorable and interesting, above all, plain language? We all know that every industry has its own bit of jargon. When we talk about resources, instead of people or money, the face can get very disengaged and it's very difficult to build a relationship with somebody who is using a lot of jargon.

I think that Steve Jobs was right. Whenever he launched a new phone, he only had three things he wanted the audience to remember. But I think there's a more interesting way that we can get our messages across. So I like to use elements of the story structure in the middle of the story is the storyteller and that's I. And when I say I, I mean I, not we. I don't mean never say we, but really think about why it is that you're using that word. Could you instead bring in some other characters from the story, some other members from your team, all that helps to do is give a little more depth to what you're trying to say. It makes the whole thing more personal. So whenever I'm preparing for a big meeting with my team, I think about what are the messages I want to say, where do I want to put them in my delivery? If there's a drier, more technical point, I love using analogies and metaphors.

All these help do is help personalise your content. We know that digital communication is difficult, it's difficult sometimes to build a relationship over a screen. So if you use these techniques, as a manager, you'll find that your messages are reinforced and remembered. Building good digital communication skills doesn't happen overnight. But now that you've got the tools, I encourage you to practice. For really important messages that you need to deliver, film yourself on your phone, on your iPad, watch it back and think about what it is you like, and what are the things you still need to improve. Also notice the people that you think are really good digital communicators, what is it about them that you like? All these tools will help you become a better digital communicator. I'm Edie Lush and this is my Manageable Guide to digital communication.