Build connection

Recently, I gave a talk about something quite personal on Zoom, to people I couldn’t even see. I knew I would struggle if I didn’t have some kind of proper connection with them.

The standard routine is to ask people to say hi, or type what they had for breakfast in the chat box – “to create a bit of interaction”.

But that would have felt superficial, fake – pointless, because for technical reasons I couldn’t see the chat box.

Talking into the void, I said I felt a bit vulnerable sharing what I was sharing, and asked people to respect privacy by keeping what I said within the “four walls” of the Zoom call.

Plainly, this request was unenforceable. But I was touched, afterwards, to see dozens and dozens of comments there, reading simply: “I promise”.

Later the organiser sent me some feedback from attendees, which I share here because I find it amazing that a talk into the void could have such impact. I hope it’s also encouraging for anyone preparing to deliver something similar:

Bearing in mind what I’m saying here about interaction, I’m extremely grateful for the replies to my Email Newsletter on Friday. There were more than I expected, and I’m sorry I haven’t had time to reply to them all.

In that email, I mentioned the Festival of Rhetoric I’m co-hosting throughout November. (The email is archived here.)

We’re still putting the finishing touches on the Festival. If you haven’t already, please leave a comment below about what you’d like us to include.

Thanks for reading.

PS. I mean it! Please leave a comment.

2 thoughts on “Build connection”

  1. Hi JP,
    If I was still working, I would be so excited about the FoR – and am still interested. I think this is not an original suggestion – but anyway:
    I suspect that there are a lot of people quite like me who are aware that means and styles of wider communication are leaving us behind. We do Zoom, but we don’t know how to use it well. I would like your Festival to include some discussion of what standards and protocols we would like to see established for electronic interface meetings. So often (Twitter for example) they are left to define themselves and the result is unpretty and unhelpful. How do we want people to interact with our Zoom meetings? When? What are the particular skills of managing a Zoom meeting? How do we manage an on-going discussion that has become to narrow? On the other hand, how do we allow focus, when maybe a large part of the audience is becoming restive? (It’s much easier to leave a Zoom meeting than room meeting, after all?) What are the strengths of a Zoom meeting? What are the differences from an old fashioned lecture?
    How do we excel at Zoom?

    1. Deb – as usual you have asked some excellent questions.

      I’m especially grateful for the reminder (here, and also from some others, sent directly by email) that many people absolutely are NOT comfortable with eg Zoom, despite months of practice during Covid.

      Will attempt to answer these questions in due course!

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