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I'M ONE TO TALK

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

The Realities of Virtual Presentations During COVID-19

*NOTE: This article is not a commentary on masks, social distancing or other COVID-19 protocols. Please follow the guidelines established by your local and regional authorities.

I’m a sports broadcaster and professional speaker and I hate “thumbnail audiences.” 

I’d rather be talking to myself.

If you knew me as a kid (or realized how much I talk to myself during the day) this might not come as a surprise.

But here’s what came as a surprise to me: it’s 100 times easier to be on live TV in front of hundreds of thousands of people I can’t see than present to a thumbnail audience.

I’d rather be talking to myself.

I’ll admit there is value in using technology to connect. Virtual presentations are the norm these days out of necessity, but you might want to reconsider the impact of those messages. For those struggling to keynote with thumbnail audiences on Zoom, Microsoft Teams or WebEx there’s a reason for that. For those...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

If there’s a three-day weekend on the horizon, but you’re working from home does it feel any different?

Here’s one way to break out the norm – tune into the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating competition July 4. This annual tradition will take place, but like everything else will look a little different. There won’t be an audience. The competition will take place inside, which means competitors get the advantage of air conditioning, and that might be the edge Joey Chestnut needs to break his own record of 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes. The 12-time champion thinks eating 77 hot dogs is a possibility this year.   

If that doesn’t sound exciting to you, maybe these other conversation starters will float your boat.

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

Usually sports conversations are my outlet. A chance to talk about something other than news. An opportunity to be entertained, and a chance to build relationships with sports fans.

In fact, that’s how I’ve encouraged people to use sports small talk for more than a decade. 

As a sports broadcaster those conversations are also part of my job, and increasingly more stressful because it forces me to consider what happens if sports don’t return. For me sports conversations are less of an outlet and more like a huge reason for concern and worry.

I’ve heard a lot of people say there are bigger things to deal with than sports, and there is truth to that, but there’s also the other side of the coin – without sports a lot of jobs are lost.

Here’s why I’m saying this: there’s more than one point of view to consider. In every conversation. Be careful about being shortsighted in the way you approach small talk.

Just a few...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s nothing like a series of 30-second sprints in the middle of a three-mile run to hammer home just how long 30-seconds is. It doesn’t sound like much time, but it’s more than enough to leave my legs feeling like Jell-O and make me gasp for air.

That same 30-seconds is all it takes to further a business relationship and engage in productive small talk.

Conversations don’t have to be lengthy to make an impact.

Short and sweet can do the trick. Try these sports topics making headlines this week to get the ball rolling.

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

Build relationships before you need them.

I offered that piece of advice to college students starting their careers in sports broadcasting. I can’t only talk to an athlete, coach or executive is when I need something and expect them to open up, share their perspective or give me any answer at all. If I don’t put relationships first they will be more likely to turn and walk the other way when they see me coming instead of giving me a warm greeting and insightful answers.

The need for tough conversations and thoughtful discourse won’t go away. Those conversations can get easier if you build relationships along the way. You don’t have to start with the tough conversation. You can start with small talk.

And those small talk conversations can start with sports, like these topics making news this week.

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Camera Ready: A Broadcaster's Advice for Virtual Presentations

My ability to talk is a bit of a family joke and was well-documented by teachers who noted on every single report card that I had a tendency to “talk too much.”

Everyone agreed a job in sports broadcasting seemed like the perfect fit for me, but no one in my family believed me when I said I was exhausted after talking all day.

After all, what was so different about getting paid to do something I did naturally?

 Here’s the difference: the camera.

Being on camera requires a different level of focus, energy and planning.

It’s part of the reason you’re Zoom’ed out, frustrated by having to dial into yet another meeting that seems like even more of a waste of time than usual and more exhausted by the end of the day despite not leaving the house. Certainly, the stress and uncertainty of during this pandemic are part of that dynamic but you should also acknowledge the stress of being on camera. 

Virtual meetings, happy hours and interactions...

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Communicating With Remote Teams: Apply Best Intent Approach

Working remotely doesn't just change our work environment, it changes our memory of what it's like to work with someone. It's easier to question someone's ability or talent if you're not seeing that play out in front of you. 

It's one of the reasons getting face time with team members and managers was important prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Work from home policies change those dynamics and it can change the attitude we have toward our team members.  

 

Distrust in virtual settings is a gradual shift that starts showing up in the way we send emails or start meetings.

Something like, "No pressure, but I'm expecting that report done in a couple days." or "I expect everyone to be on the call tomorrow, no excuses." On the surface those comments are an example of how to clearly communicate with your team. 

But imagine that email or statement coming out of the blue, without any other context.  There's a tinge of distrust and hostility that comes through. An...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

Soccer returned in Germany. NASCAR returned in the United States. A few PGA players returned to the course. Sports leagues continue to discuss plans that would allow them to resume play.

It won’t be what fans are used to experiencing, but it will be live sporting events. It could also lead to emotional conversations.

Friendly reminder: When using sports in small talk with colleagues, stay away from politics and other hot-button issues.

Yes, I know there’s an option to go down that path. And you and I both know that if you do that you won’t be furthering a relationship, you could be ending one. You don’t have to like the people you work with, but you do need to find a way to work well with them. It’s your job. Don’t make it any harder by picking fights.

With that in mind, here are a few sports topics you can use in small talk this week.

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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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