There’s a lot of things we haven’t done in a while. Take a European vacation. Attend an indoor concert. Give an in-person presentation in front of the C-suite. Some of those things come easier than others. When you’re facing the return to a more “traditional” work environment, how can you be prepared?
Here are some practical ways you can freshen up your leadership and communication skills as you head back into the workplace:
- Practice, Practice, Practice
The number one gift we can give ourselves is time to practice before we face a challenging situation. Whether it’s a formal presentation or leading a virtual meeting, practicing will help us prepare in two ways:
- Become comfortable with your content
- Become comfortable speaking out loud in front of people
Remember, we’re used to being able to hit “mute” when we don’t want to be heard. We’re used to being able to open another tab, reference our notes, or read off the screen. Virtual communications have made it easier to feel distant, disconnected, and more casual in our communication. But now we need to connect with the people in the same room.
The most important part of practice is being intentional about it. Actually put time to practice on your calendar, and stick to it. Record yourself and review it with a trusted partner.. And remember, the mind follows the body: we can say all these things, but until we physically do it, nothing is going to change.
- Assume Positive Intent
When you have an important communication coming up, take the time to cultivate a healthy mindset. Instead of dwelling on any nervousness or picturing the scenario a thousand times in your head, force yourself to visualize a positive result.
Remind yourself that you’ve already adapted to a huge transition from in-person to remote work. You have the tools to communicate effectively, connect with your audience, and inspire change. You just haven’t used them in-person in a while.
- Plan Ahead
A lot of things about virtual work were easy: you might not have needed a formal wardrobe, you didn’t have to sit in traffic, and you didn’t have to pack a lunch. Now that many people are heading back to the office, it’s essential to plan ahead.
Think about your next meeting. Consider what drive or walk time you will need to get there on time or early, so you’re not in a rush. Think about your audience: what do they need to see and hear from you in a way that’s conversational and connects with them? Think about your format—is this an in-person, virtual, or hybrid communication? These questions will help you come ready for success.
Everybody knows you can’t just show up and run a marathon if you haven’t trained. We need to go back to the basics and practice. When we stretch muscles we haven’t used in a long time, it will feel uncomfortable at first, and then pay dividends later.
Are you looking for more ways to enhance your communication and leadership skills? Consider our one-on-one coaching programs, including our Presentation Coaching and Lead to the Max!® Coaching for emerging leaders.