Updated: Sep 3
You signed up for an online presentation. Super interesting topic. A famous speaker. You’re excited. Got your water tumbler ready, some snacks. You connect a few minutes early to confirm your speakers work properly. YOU ARE READY. Anxiously you glance at the watch and count the few seconds that are left before go time.
The host comes on, welcomes everyone and….drum rolls….presents the famous speaker:”Ladies and gentlemen, enough of me, now, without any further due, please welcome…..” Your heart is about to burst out of excitement. You can literally feel all of the 342 participants’ hearts beat together.
You take a sip of water picturing the famous speaker un-muting their mic…..still….crickets. You check your speakers. Again. No issue there. And still...no word from the speaker. About a minute and 23 seconds went by since the introduction (which felt like 3 hours) and then you hear the host say:”well...ummm...we’re having a small technical issue. Please bear with us a moment”.
Another 2 minutes go by and then…”maybe now?”. You could swear you heard your famous idol voice through the mic. “Can you hear me now?” the same voice asks again. And you scream - YES!! I can hear you! But of course since you and everyone else were muted, no one hears you. Then the host comes on and says:”yes, we can hear you. Please go ahead”. “OK, this is not really clear how I share the slides here. This online technology is confusing. Oh, I think I figured it out”. On the screen you look at what appears to be the speaker’s family Christmas photo. “So, hi everyone, the focus of my presentation today is…” and then the host abruptly interrupts with “hmmm….sorry sir, I believe you have the wrong picture on the screen.
“I’m telling you, this technology is confusing”.
Sounds familiar? We’ve all been there. And 2 things are going on when this happens:
1. Your Emotional Relevance towards the online technology being used is being affected. Negatively of course. This incident you have just witnessed serves as an Emotional Anchor and the next time you will need to either select an online tool to use or to attend an online session and this same technology is an option - guess which one you will tend not to choose…..?!
2. The focus of the session is now on the technology and not on the content. Everyone’s attention is around trying to resolve the technical issue (or watching another episode of Outlander as they lost interest). Everyone's mind is now honed onto the speaker trying to figure it out. Moreover, the speaker’s vibe for the next few minutes (at least) is edgy and negative which reflects even worse on the technology itself and keeps reminding your subconscious that this technology sucks as long as the speaker presents at that vibe.
It seems that during COVID days, we are all forced on learning how to use new technologies. And if not new, then use a familiar technology for a longer (much longer) period of times.
The other day someone asked me if I have any recommendations on how to treat Zoom fatigue. My response was that you need to start looking at Zoom or any other online tool (Webex, gotomeeting, Remo and others) you use as just an enabler. Practice some more, figure out the best setting for you, and put it on auto-pilot. When you talk about Zoom fatigue it is the same exact impact as that famous speaker who is trying to figure out how to share and blames the technology. Even though rightfully so as the technology’s UX is not good enough, the focus is now on the technology and not the content. Position your online tool as just the tool. Do not let it take more focus than it should. It is merely a facilitator.
Here are a few easy ways to go about it:
· Check your sound and camera settings. Basic. Don't avoid it. Get someone online with you to help you test it before you start working online. Record the session so you can hear yourself and see yourself. Super helpful.
· Always have the phone number of the call available to dial in. Just in case your internet slows down or your mic gets choppy.
· Stop (pretty please) saying things like:"can you see my screen?" or "can you hear me now?". Someone will let you know if something's wrong, no need to draw more attention to it.
· Just go, keep going. If your mic gets weird and you dial back in it's all right to say:"hang on guys I am dialing in". Then just dial in and keep going. No need to get into "well, I am not sure what happened to my mic, I just bought it last week and connected it to the USB and when I called support they recommended.....". JUST KEEP GOING!
I mentioned in previous posts that I used to play basketball so allow me to finish with a basketball reference.
Michael Jordan’s last game with the Bulls. This is a game for all the marbles. If they win it is their 6th championship. Jordan hit a jump shot with 5.2 seconds left in the game to give the Bulls an 87–86 lead and win the game. To date, it is the NBA game with the highest TV ratings at all times. If you ask any amateur basketball fan they will know that famous last shot. They will know the Bulls played Utah that game and that Stockton missed a 3 point shot after MJ’s amazing last shot and they will most likely know the names of the coaches, the starting rosters and more. I will tell you one data point they don’t know.
Who were the referees!
You see, a great referee is a referee you didn’t even feel he/she was there. The game was flowing, they didn’t take any unnecessary attention from the main show. The game. Just like your actual business, your trait, that is the focus. Not the tool you use to do it with.
The best technology in the world ladies and gentlemen.
The best technology in the world is a technology you don’t even know is there.