Communications in a Small Community

If it’s not your first time stopping by, then you probably know I’m from small town Arkansas, where word travels fast. If you say something about another person, by the time you get to the other side of town (which is about a three minute drive) they have already heard everything about it and have made their own decisions.

When a crisis strikes, the only way you’re going to make it through is being prepared. No one wants to sit around and think about what might come along and cause pain or injury, but because there’s no way to see the future, everything has to be taken into consideration. In business and on our social networks, we can often be considered as little communities, so how can you prepare in advance for something you might never see coming? What happens when your small community faces a crisis?

Whatever message you have, write it down. This information will pass through a lot of hands and you don’t want anyone playing “telephone” with a message as important as this.

Ever played the game “telephone” where you whisper a secret and it travels down the line, only to come to the last person a mere skeleton of what the thought originally was? When news breaks in a small community, it can be hard to stop the flow of mis-information and personal judgments. Put your message on paper so what you’re passing around is going to be the same for everyone.

Contact the neighboring towns to find out what they could provide if your community is put into an unexpected tight spot.

One of the towns close to home has a small, all volunteer fire department with one engine that is top speed about 50 MPH (no, seriously, I’ve been behind this thing when it’s on the way to a fire). It just so happens to be in an area that is highly prone to wildfires. The city knows they are without the funds to purchase new and better equipment, so they made arrangements with nearby communities to pitch in when it’s needed. I’ve seen the fire departments from five different towns converge on this tiny community to help put out fires.

Prepare messages in advance and role play potential problems that could affect your community.

You can never know what’s coming with your community, business, organization, or even your best friend – but what you can do is make a plan, well in advance and be prepared in the event that something does happen. That way, when you need to respond right away, you’re not stuck on the stage where you are trying plan what to do when faced with a crisis.

AccuConference | Regain Audience Attention

Regain Audience Attention

Hopefully you've never experienced the feeling, but for most of us who have given a presentation, we've had at least one moment where we could feel the audience's attention slipping through our fingers.  So what can we do when this happens?  (And no, bursting out into song doesn't work… I can tell you that for sure.)

We don't have hurry to the end, or pack it in when we start losing the audience's attention.  There are things we can do to bring them back under our spell.  The Eloquent Woman blog has some pretty good tips for us.  And even though they are for presenting in person, they can be used in our conference calls as well.

Get Out Into the Audience – All right, so we can't do this literally, but the Eloquent Woman does have a point.  Once the audience has mentally put us in a box, they pay attention quick when we step out of it, and walk around the room.  We can do the same with our webcams.  After fifteen minutes of our head and shoulders, why not tilt the webcam, stand up and step back, showing our full body while we talk.  It's different, more dynamic, and will wake a few participants up. 

Gesture – Again, another tip best used on a video conference, gestures help focus our body language to fully support what we're saying.  And again, a gesture here or there will help break up the monotony of just our heads talking.  Of course, we need to stay aware of what can and can't be seen on screen, and we should remember to keep movements a little slower and smoother than normal to avoid blurry or choppy video.

Get the Audience Involved – Finally, something that's perfect for a web conference.  We can talk about our chosen subject matter for hours, but we should never forget the point of our presentation is to educate the participants.  At random times, it's good to stop and ask questions.  We can ask specific people—waking up all the others—or ask the group in a poll.  A versatile part of a web conference is the chat feature.  Encourage people often to type in their comments or questions so you can stop to give the answer, or work it in on the fly.

How do you regain your participants flagging attention?  Leave a comment and let us know.  Also tell us if random singing has ever worked for you or anyone you know.  (I'm telling you, it doesn't!)

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