Now that we’ve been working from home because of COVID-19, have you found yourself struggling to communicate effectively? If you’ve been fighting the technology, don’t let the fear hold you back from the message God’s put in your heart. Your answer has arrived! Here’s a quick basic reference sheet to get you back in the game:
Where do you share?
When it comes to social media, we’re all learning and updating ourselves on the evolving platforms. Choose the top 2-3 platforms that best suits your message and audience. For me I am on Facebook, (mainly to cover followers both here and internationally) Twitter, (because it’s where most of my audience is) and Instagram (because it’s such a popular visual platform). I’m not active on Pinterest (a creative arts site) or LinkedIn (business, job site) but I have accounts on both of these and check them occasionally. The bottom line is you need to research which platform you need most for the message you want to communicate. There are only so many hours in the day and giving time to all of them is not only a distraction but redundant.
What to post?
Stop sharing cat pictures, food, or your wardrobe. People want to know what it’s like to be you, what you worry about, hope for, are challenged and passionate about – not necessarily how many miles you jogged today. Remember its “social” media, so you should respond back when others comment on your posts. The conversation needs to be going both ways. No one wants to hang out with someone who’s stuck on themselves or is always talking about how great they are. Be interested in others and have fun. Ask questions, tell a short story, share what you’re learning, and find ways to communicate the joy and message of God’s love, peace and “hope that lies within you,” II Timothy 1:7.
Use #Hashtags and Memes.
These tools aggregate topics and generate more #eyeballs and #attention. Learn about them. Find out which #hashtags are most used and #popular or #trending. The more hashtags the merrier as they generate more eyeballs. Memes are like online billboards. When you scroll down your stream of posts, memes stand out, and you can even make them move to capture more attention. There are many apps to help you design them. My favorite is Canva.
Use visuals and limit your words.
Finally, always, always, always post a picture. Few people stop for words these days, we stop on visuals. Ever wonder why we can’t not look when passing an accident on the freeway? Likewise, on the social media freeway, we stop when we see a compelling picture. So, find them or make them. One of my favorite free picture sites is: UnSplash. When you do find that perfect pic, then make your text compelling. Ask a question or find the keyword that people are drawn to. Remember that most Americans read at a 3rd-grade level so a cognitive winsome dialogue gyrates and thwarts engagers.
YouTube and ZOOM tips.
Create a YouTube channel. Put all your speaking gigs and videos there, and I would encourage you to keep them short and sweet. Four to seven minutes are best unless you have something really compelling. I did a video series when my book, “Hope4Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture” was released called, “4 Hope Moments,” that were 2 minutes or less. Most people won’t watch a long Facebook or Instagram video. Instagram interviews, where you invite someone to come have a chat with you and invite viewers ahead of time is one of the latest effective and trending strategies.
Pay attention to your lighting. Natural light is best but make sure it’s in front of you. Backlight will turn you into a silhouette. Try different angles on your smartphone and see what it looks like before you begin. Stay away from yellow light tones and you might want to change a few light bulbs. There are some inexpensive LED devices you can get that can help so do a little research.
Sound and WIFI connection are important. Do a sound check by recording something and playing it back. Inexpensive mics can be purchased online that plug right into your mobile device or computer. Listen for echoes and earbuds will help. Check your internet connection as well and don’t forget to turn off any programs you are using on your computer that could slow it down.
Keep the screen/camera lens at eye level. Raise your device or computer up so you aren’t looking down. Even slightly high keeps you from having a double chin and makes you sit up. Raise the camera angle if necessary.
Stay focused on the camera lens. It’s a little dot, so if needed, put something colorful there to remind you to look there and not at your face on the screen. I like to try and imagine there is someone peering back at me from that little hole and try and look through the hole and not just at the camera lens. It allows the viewer to be drawn to you more. Try not to rock or move in and out toward the screen when you talk and don’t make huge hand movements or gestures.
Pay attention to your background. Keep it uncluttered, and if needed, have something that is suggestive of your topic or gives you credibly. If you are in LA don’t have a picture of the Grand Canyon behind you. If you are award winning in your particular field or business have an award in the background. If you have a book, or other subject you’re talking about have a poster or a picture of the object off to the side. A blank wall with a light switch, or a plant behind you that looks like it is growing out of your head, or an unmade bed in the background is distracting and doesn’t look very professional. Keep the audience focused on you. Keep your hair and clothing simple. Even big earrings and jewelry can be distracting and cause your viewers to stop listening.
Keep your presentations shorter rather than longer. We live in a distracted culture so keep it moving. Research shows we size people up and decide if we want to listen within 8 seconds of meeting them. It takes only 2 seconds online, so be unique, creative, compelling and get to the point fast. Write out a script and practice it.
When God called Moses to set His people free, He came to Moses three times in a burning bush. Moses’ final argument was that He didn’t know how to communicate effectively. So, God sent Aaron to assist and be his mouthpiece or I say, to be the first public relations and social media specialist of his day. God’s given you a unique message and we have the technology to get it out there so use it. We may be ‘socially distancing” for a long time. Remember, it’s about building relationships and connections. Let the viewer know that you see them, their struggles, and their challenges, and most of all, help them to believe in your mission and empower them to change their world.