September 30, 2020 | Online
Communications expert Scott Morgan joined us to discuss tips and tricks for building mindful connections in a virtual environment. He spoke about the strategies we can learn from television, the importance of storytelling, and the dos and don'ts of virtual communication.  This conversation was a part of our Professional Development Series co-hosted by Women In International Security. Members can watch a recording on our Member Career Resources Platform

Advice from our Expert

Building Mindful Connections

  1. Personal Connection: As the presenter or meeting leader, you are the issue expert or organization ambassador; don't distance yourself as a mere spokesperson—make it personal! Your presentation will be much more dynamic and enthusiastic
  2. Single Theme: Have a central idea, and return to it often. Repetition is important!
  3. Vivid Examples: It's always important to speak in pictures, but especially when your voice may be the audience's only source of imagery.
  4. Baby-Step Solutions: Having ambitious goals is great, but what should we do tomorrow? Include short-term action steps, indicators, and resources for further information.
  5. Common Ground: This should be your hook, telling the audience why they are there, why the theme is relevant, and why they should care

Preparing Your Presentation: Tell a Linear Story

  1. Problem: This is your hook. What is the issue you will be discussing? How does it pertain to your audience?
  2. Main Question: Isolate part of the larger problem. This is the central theme and should frame your presentation
  3. Evidence: Include details, data, and anecdotes in this portion. While in writing the strongest evidence is introduced first, for an oral presentation you want to start with your weakest points and crescendo to a strong conclusion
  4. Main Answer: What is the answer to the central question of your presentation? Your presentation should build to this
  5. Immediate Steps Forward:  What action can your audience take right now to achieve the main answer? How do we get out of our problem? Who is doing great work on the main question, and how can we help them?

Adapting to a Virtual Medium

  • Add personal connection throughout the entirety or your meeting or presentation. Don't be hesitant to demonstrate emotion. Use facial expressions and engage your hands
  • Repeat, reinforce and summarize
  • Avoid text-heavy visuals. Images become static very quickly, so add animation and movement to imitate television and increase attention.
  • Think about your surroundings--avoid busy backgrounds like kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms
  • Illuminate yourself with side and front lighting (not overhead or back lighting) and use a microphone for better sound quality
  • Do wear daytime makeup; solid, bright colors; and outfits with depth (scarves, blazers, sweaters, etc.)
  • Don’t wear black, white, shiny fabrics, busy patterns, or flashy jewelry/watches
  • Be punctual and watch your time
  • Don’t forget to be an active listener when you’re not speaking!

Final Take-Aways

  • Be all-in! Give this meeting, presentation, or event 100%
  • Don't speak to the camera; speak through the camera
  • Virtual meetings/presentations are television—embrace that! If something makes it good television, it will make a splash in a virtual meeting

Thank you to our speaker!

Scott MorganScott Morgan has been teaching leadership and communication skills for over 30 years. His clients include scientists, policy makers, graduate students and global corporations. Scott also teaches media and communication strategy to many think tanks and research organizations around the world. He is a Senior Associate at the Leadership Academy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), graduated with honors from the University of California Davis, and holds a master’s degree in psychology from Columbia University. He authored the book Speaking about Science published by Cambridge University Press (2006) and launched a mindfulness app for young adults called 3rdi in 2014.