Technology – it’s a blessing and a curse! No matter how you feel about it, communicating effectively via evolving technology is essential for growing a business. New devices and apps help us connect with others remotely, can be faster than traditional communication methods, and are designed to make exchanging information easier. It is important to put your best voice forward when communicating via audio and video technology, because consistent bad habits are a turn-off, and jeopardize your reputation as a competent, caring health and wellness professional.
Examples of communicating via audio (just sound, no picture) include old-fashioned phone conversations, voicemail, and conference calls. With each of these, we cannot see the people who are listening. We can’t make eye contact or provide facial expression/body language clues to support and enhance what we say. We therefore must work a little harder to make sure that all parties are heard and understood, and that we are coming across in the way we intend. Here are some guidelines for communicating via audio technology:
- Smile when you speak. People can hear the smile in your voice and will find you friendlier.
- Speak extra-clearly. Move your mouth more so that you enunciate your words well. In face-to-face conversation, people often unknowingly use lipreading in conjunction with listening to make sure they understand what you say. With audio only, you have to make up for those extra comprehension cues being absent.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds before you move on to your next thought. That way your listener has time to process what you have just said and interject if needed. You also get to plan your next thought or question.
- When it seems right, ask if your listener is understanding you. “Does this make sense?” or “Are you following me so far?” are some good questions to verify your message is being clearly received.
- Apply tips for successful conference calls to avoid frustration. Establish a call leader or moderator who is responsible for adhering to the agenda and can “direct traffic” when more than one person is speaking at once. Make sure everyone who is not talking places themselves on mute while listening to limit distracting background noises that make it hard to understand the person who is speaking.
- Be sure to listen carefully. If you offer phone consultations with your clients, it is not only important for you to speak clearly, but also to be sure you understand what they are saying. Pay attention to the emotions behind their words so you can respond with empathy.
- Create a brief personable outgoing voicemail greeting. While voicemail messages are on the decline, they are still vital tools for running our businesses. Be sure your outgoing greeting has your voice on it, not the pre-recorded computer’s voice. Add a little personality and assurance you will return the call in a timely manner. Here is a handout with more tips for creating strong voicemail greetings.
The use of video in business has become an expectation. Potential clients sometimes look to video as a litmus test for likeability and competence when researching a health and wellness provider. Videos help clients get to know you before they meet you in person. You can share videos about you and your business on your website, in emails to your contacts, in special promotions or offers, on social media, and in webinars. Video can also be used to serve clients remotely. If you aren’t yet using video in your business the time to start is now! There is a caveat, however: if you don’t come across as genuine, caring, engaging, professional, confident, or otherwise make a positive impression when you speak, video can be your downfall. Here are some tips to help you do that when you are ready to create your videos.
Some effective uses of video as a marketing tool include:
- Introducing you to people visiting your site: In 2 to 3 minutes, tell your story and why you do what you do. This shows you are a human who gets what others are going through and cares for their wellbeing.
- Welcoming visitors to your website and social media home pages: Create a 60 to 90-second video where you look directly into the camera and speak to the person watching. Invite them to explore your site/page and to contact you if they have questions. This sets a friendly and inviting tone that draws people in.
- Sharing content: In 5 to 10-minute videos, demonstrate techniques or routines to provide useful information about the benefits of your specialty. You can create a series of videos (much like this blog series) that allow you to go into more detail on certain topics. You can even advance to giving 30 to 60-minute webinars to teach concepts. Doing this educates the public and establishes your credibility.
- Revealing your vulnerability: On the spur of the moment, and if you dare, record some 2 to 3-minute live videos on social media that let people see the real you. You can use live videos to talk about your wins, mistakes, or fears and their effect on your life. Showing up on video without the chance to go back and edit it indicates your willingness to be vulnerable. It seems ironic, but evidence has been found that instead of being a turn-off, vulnerability is attractive. Thought leader, author, and speaker Brené Brown has done extensive research about the power of vulnerability. Watch her TED talk here.
There is more to say about communicating via technology, and as new tools and applications keep entering the market, the conversation will continue. Don’t take for granted these great ways to leverage your voice. Use the technology well and use it to grow your business.