18 Spring 2021 THREE WAYS TO STAY FABULOUSLY, VIRTUALLY, CONNECTED In our last issue we looked at Zoom fatigue reports and the need to support remote workers. Following on from that, Jean Gamester of Toastmasters International discusses how to stay connected when interacting with people virtually. W ho could have imagined at the start of 2020 that we would shift so much into the virtual world? Being face to face seemed so important, yet the pandemic has us spending so much of our time face to screen. Is this good news, a fabulous “new normal”, or a disaster? We seem conflicted. According to a KPMG survey last summer, 64% of workers preferred the flexibility of remote working, but over a third felt their ability to collaborate had fallen. All over there are stories of Zoom fatigue and studies about the adverse impact of remote working. My own experience reflects the conflict.I’ve gone from constantly travelling between client sites to connecting with people from around the world frommy screen.I’ve loved the connection and the opportunity to be home.I have also wondered whether I am getting value from all this time on screen.Drawing from my experience of leading engaging change in organisations and of being with audiences from the public speaking stage,here are three ways of staying connected that have helpedme in the virtual world over the last year. 1 GREETING TO CONNECT If we were meeting in the “real world”,we’d arrive in the door,say “Hi”,move chairs around,put coats on stands. We’d chat about the weather,the latest events on the grapevine and world news.All this may seem trivial but it’s really a subtle process of connection,of taking the social temperature. It allows us to open up,to be with each other, ready to listen actively and talk connectedly. When we are meeting remotely, we need this greeting space even more. Without it, we are straight into the action with no warm-up of our voices and of our relationships with each other. We have the discomfort and disconnection of bypassing greetings. One thing I’ve started to do is to build in warm-up time into key meetings. In some cases, we’re opening the virtual

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