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.