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Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.

Communicating in Times of Certainty - Reminders from the NFL Draft

This week the NFL will releasing the entire 2020 schedule with the expectation the full season will be played and will start on time. Of course, there are contingencies in place if the COVID-19 crisis forces changes, but for right now fans can start looking ahead, getting excited for rivalry weekends and anticipating the debut of a new class of rookies.

Without even taking the field, the 2020 NFL Draft class has been part of NFL history by being the first (and perhaps only) class to be selected during an entirely virtual draft.

As the sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks and the founder of Talk Sporty to Me, I look for business parallels in the sporting events and press conferences I cover.

Talk Sporty to Me isn’t about clichés and metaphors, it’s about making sports fandom useful in business, relationship building and communication.

With that in mind, here are five quick takeaways from my experience as part of the Seahawks draft coverage and broadcast team...

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Stop Comparing Virtual Meetings to Face-to-Face Interactions

Stop comparing virtual interactions to real-life, in-person conversations. They’re not the same thing.

Video conferencing, virtual happy hours and online training might be the next best thing to meeting in person, but they are not the same thing. There’s a big difference and big problem with making that assertion. Insisting video conferencing is “just like” face-to-face interactions discredits the feelings of exhaustion and fatigue that accompany virtual interactions. 

If you go into the day thinking you’re going to have a conversation instead of preparing to be on camera, you’re setting yourself up for burn out, fatigue, exhaustion and frustration. 

Take it from someone who’s been on camera and on TV for the last 14 years. I’m a sports broadcaster based out of Seattle. My colleagues and I can tell you from personal experience being on camera every day can be emotionally and mentally draining.

Communicating in a virtual...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

If you’re measuring the effectiveness of your communication in time instead of understanding you’re not actually communicating. You’re talking to hear yourself talk.

In other words, if you think a longer conversation means you’re a better communicator you need to rethink your KPI or success metrics. 

Short conversations can be more impactful and make you a more effective communicator if you’re intentional about the message you’re conveying and the time you spend listening. 

That’s true for every email, meeting, video conference and small talk opportunity.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time in small talk to make a genuine connection when you’re intentional about how you engage with people.

Here are a few sports topics to help you do that this week.

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Learn from a Leader: Steve Singh on creating All In Seattle

covid-19 leadership Apr 28, 2020

A quick scan of Steve Singh’s biography tells you all you really need to know about the Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group. It’s not his experience or expertise that jumps out. It’s this phrase: “the only legacy we leave behind is positively changing the trajectory of life for others.” 

Here’s what else you need to know about Singh, he’s a driving force behind All In Seattle, a coalition of concerned Seattleites and community members who banded together to help neighbors through the COVID-19 crisis. The initiative ties into his personal belief around impacting the lives of others.

“No matter how amazing any one human being may be, we can only move the needle a little bit,” Singh told me during a recent conversation. “So, the legacy that we get behind is ensuring that everyone gets a chance to move the needle.”

As Singh says in the video below, “leaders can be anybody."

All In Seattle partners...

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Sports Conversation Starters your Your Workweek + Convo with a WNBA GM

Were you one of the record-number of people who tuned into the virtual NFL Draft?

Were you also among the group of viewers who enjoyed seeing coaches, GMs, players and even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in their own homes?

It’s one of the biggest talking points following a draft that had more suspense around whether or not the technology would work (it did) than the top two quarterbacks in the draft class.

The NFL Draft provided sports-starved fans an outlet and insight they’d never seen. It’s a reminder that sports isn’t just about sports outcomes and work isn’t just about your work product.

Your house might not look like Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Your dog might not get as much attention as Bill Belichick’s but that doesn’t mean co-workers and colleagues don’t want to connect with you on a personal level.

Pull back the curtain a little bit in your small talk. Be willing to chit chat before your calls this week....

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Communicating With Remote Teams: Increase Audience Engagement

Audience participation requires prompting. 

It's not enough to encourage your remote team to "weigh in with questions" or "let me know what you think." It sounds like you're encouraging engagement and interaction but you audience still doesn't have clear direction or guidelines.

  • What should they be asking questions about?
  • How long do they have to ask questions?
  • What kind of thoughts would you like? Good ones? Bad ones?

Maintaining collaboration, teamwork and engagement are important aspects in leading a remote team, so don't leave it to chance. Be intentional about setting up scenarios that promote interaction and guarantee engagement. 

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Sports Conversation Starters your Your Workweek

Small talk isn’t just about being polite or finding something to say before a meeting starts. It’s the beginning of conversation that could unlock creativity, new ideas or inspiration.

Those are all things that could be lacking while working from home. If you’re missing some of your mojo. If ideas aren’t coming to you as easily as they once did, try having a conversation with someone else. It doesn’t even need to be about work or the problem you’re trying to solve.

One comment can lead to a different thought and a way to unlock your mojo and creativity.

If you’re looking for small talk topics this week, try these sports headlines.

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Communicating With Remote Teams: Master 3-Sentence Summaries

Better communication shouldn't be interpreted as longer emails or more meetings. 

Be careful about extolling the values of "over-communication" with your remote team because longer emails and more meetings don't mean better communication. 

You still need to communicate your message in a way the other person (or people on your team) hear and process the information. More often than not, it's shorter, bite-sized nuggets.

If you don't account for short attention spans and additional distractions that come with working from home, you're missing the mark with communication. 

Here's a concept we frequently use during TV broadcasts - 3-sentence summaries. Take a look.

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Sports Conversation Starters For Your Workweek

Functionality over cleverness today.

It’s important to stay in touch with people. You need things to talk about. There are only so many conversations about grocery store shortages, death rates, flattening the curve and social distancing we can take. (I know I’m at my limit!)

In the event that you are too, and even if you’re not, here are a few sports topics you can use in small talk on those video calls and virtual meetings this week.

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Communicating With Remote Teams: Use E.T.A. for clarity in emails

Another WFH truth:

Your colleagues and team members have never been able to read your mind, but now they can't even read your facial expression, tone of voice, body language or get a read on your general demeanor. 

That means they have no idea what to make of some of the emails you're sending. 

Consider a note that says, "Call me when you get a chance." You know your motivation is to check in and see how your team member is coping with the work from home dynamic, but they don't know that unless you tell them. And until they know what the conversation is about, they're likely to jump to conclusions and stress out over the all the possible things you want to talk about because it's human nature to jump to the worst-case scenario. 

Clarity is kindness, especially when sending emails in a work from home setting. 

This is just one of the things to consider when communicating with remote teams. Download the the FREE e-book Communicating With Remote Teams for...

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