Staying Connected – Part 2

by Valerie Delaney, Principal, Learning + Development

As promised, an update about my big FAM going live, using our D+A web meeting platform.

Our Easter “family dinner” dry run was great fun. Nine family households joined. It was so nice to actually see our family members. There is so much to gain by the visual aspects of communication – be that pictures, graphs or charts, or in this case, facial expressions and body language. As with every dry run, though, we had a few things to sort out. Three things I keep learning, which apply to our professional work, too, whether hosting a webinar with our training alumnae or facilitating an engagement planning meeting with clients, or engaging their stakeholders online, follow:

  • It’s worth testing the technology, even if you’ve done it 100 times. Murphy’s Law says, “If it can go wrong, it will.” We wanted to be set up early, as we were the hosts.  First, Richard’s power adapter died….as in totally dead. His computer was out of juice. Second, after moving to my brand-new computer, we discovered the mic did not work. Hurry to the “land of old, but we shouldn’t throw it away technology” cupboard for a plug-in mic. We were good to participate, but not to host…over to Jessica for that. Apparently, Richard and I looked like bingo callers during the call, as we used the old mic on bendy cord – our next careers! Don’t just test the technology, have a backup. We never did figure out my sister’s camera, but suspect she was in her pajamas and didn’t want us to see her!

One of our backups on the work front is to always send a slide deck to our participants so that if something fails, people can at least follow along on the phone. Speaking of backup, one of our team members saved the day recently for the host of a 100-person session. When his platform failed due to connectivity issues, she was able to invite all 100 participants to her ZOOM platform, and the meeting continued. And, luckily, she made both of them co-hosts because – sure enough – her connection later failed, too. Great backup, Naomi!

  • It’s worth reviewing guiding principles and tips for people not familiar with the technology. A gentle reminder to “mute” unless talking; to follow the speaking order (east to west this time); and, if not everyone is using the camera, to practice good meeting etiquette. Saying things like “It’s Valerie, here”, or “OK, over to you”, or “That’s it for me” can help manage the rhythm of the conversation.
  • It’s worth staying connected more so now than ever. During our family call, we heard about a completed MA degree, an almost-completed education degree, a soon-to-be famous champion Monopoly player, three loose teeth in one little mouth (now, that is traumatic), a gnome city, tired moms, a new baby, virtual dance classes, online classrooms for the little ones, drinking habits ( it’s five o’clock somewhere), challenges faced by our family’s first responders, and the great work being done by our public servants to get and activate the software and hardware needed to make all those federal promises happen! We are all running tight shipwrecks (thanks, Jaana) and know we have each other for support. Staying connected takes commitment, time and effort and is so worth it – especially for our mental health.

I hope you can stay connected with your loved ones.

Please take care and stay well.