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Weekly Chat: Internal Communications in the Age of the Coronavirus

One of our most important audiences are our employees and internal stakeholders. This week’s chat explores how we’re handling internal communications. Joining us are internal communications and HR pros from a wide variety of businesses including MedStar, Sodexo, CEIWC, MPT, and Goucher.

Join us for a conversation!

About PRSA Maryland Weekly Chat: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the ways it is affecting our professional and personal lives, we are holding weekly virtual meetings to gather and address a variety of topics.

Missed past chats? Click below for recording and recap:

The new COVID challenge >> too many zoom meetings! Let’s hack the virtual meeting!

We held our 4th #PRSAMDWeeklyChat on Friday, May 1 where we “hacked” the virtual meeting. Led by Maryland Chapter administrator Peggy Hoffman, the chat delved into how we can alleviate some of the pain points of virtual meetings and shift them from dreaded to welcomed 

Listen below for the full chat or see recap for some of the top tips shared by all the participants. And for more tips, check out Peggy’s list at Virtual Meetings? Let’s Make Them Engaging! 

Tips for all participants:  

  • Use a virtual background such as a portable web around screen or virtual background (see Howfinity to learn how to add). Tip: use an image off a photo site such as Big Stock, IStock, etc., or have a professional do one for you.  
  • If not using a virtual background, know what is going on behind you. Be sure there is enough light but no glare. A light in front of you is recommended.  
  • The camera angle is key. Be sure to look into the camera, not at your screen.  
  • Raise your laptop up so you are not looking down.  
  • Put white piece of paper or foamcore below your chin to lighten the face (see 5 simple ways to improve your Skype calls for more).
  • Mute your mic until you want to participate. Also turn off email and calendar alerts. 

Tips for meeting planners:  

*Don’t have people just sit there … keep them engaged. 

  • Create a theme of the day. Be creative and make each day different. 
  • Have a powerful agenda. Review at top of meeting to stay on track. 
  • Use a slide deck only when you need it. Put it away when you don’t so you can see the participants.  
  • Use a virtual white board, i.e., Trello board, split screen (Zoom/Board) 
  • Split up into groups, i.e., Zoom Rooms. If no breakout options, use Google doc to collaborate in groups.  
  • Insert polls and fun slides into presentations. 
  • End early. Leave them all wanting more.

Getting and keeping participants engaged:  

  • Ask participants to change their names to something fun, i.e., superheroes, famous people.  
  • Ask people to do things, i.e., if someone has a great suggestion, ask them to post in chat.  
  • Use interactive buttons to keep participates engaged: Chat to share tips, comments; Reactions to insert Thumbs up/Thumbs Down, Clap Hands; Raise Hand to hold a vote.
  • Be human. Add fun items to the meetings such as wear or share fun items, i.e., Mickey Mouse ears, mugs ect.; have surprise guests, i.e., pets, family members; include a virtual tour of an animal farm via Goat-2-Meeting.
  • Allow participants to share as needed. Allowing people to share funny stories/ gripes/ tips for dealing has been really key at the beginning of internal meetings.
  • Encourage stretch breaks. 
  • Monitor to see if people are checking out. Be flexible. 

Additional tips on using Zoom:  

  • Zoom shortcut key: to Mute/Unmute microphone – hold down space bar when talking and release when not 
  • Know the difference between meetings (everyone is on video) vs. webinars (only moderator/presenters are on video).  
  • Copy chats after meeting using three ellipsis at bottom of chat.

Weekly Chat: The new COVID challenge >> too many zoom meetings! Let’s hack the virtual meeting!

Join us for a fun cap to the week where we’ll hack the virtual meeting. We’ll explore how to make our virtual team and client meetings shift from dreaded to welcomed (well at least more welcomed). Peggy Hoffman, PRSA Maryland administrator, will share video meeting tips she’s figured out and gather your tips. We’ll troubleshoot some of pain points with virtual meetings. And we’ll have fun. Bonus – bring a meeting tip, share it and in fun “tip-off” we’ll find a winner who gets bragging rights and maybe a gift (you have to join in the fun to find out). Join us for a 45-min break in the dreaded virtual world.

About PRSA Maryland Weekly Chat: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the ways it is affecting our professional and personal lives, we are holding weekly virtual meetings to gather and address a variety of topics.

Missed past chats? Click below for recording and recap:

How we’re living, working, and coping during the COVID-19 crisis

Photo by Kyle Hanson on Unsplash

 

We wrapped up the week with a dose of optimism and ideas on how to find a balance. Joining us in the chat were three PR pros who are sitting in the middle (you know that space where you have to delegate down and up?) – Lauren Walbert (Sandy Hillman PR), Emily McDermott (Van Eperen), and Phill Yerby (Weber Shandwick).

Each offered a glimpse into their challenges and successes on finding that balance. Note: we don’t have a recording of this chat but below are some of the top tips offered.  

Challenge: Not being in the office and connecting with your team on a daily basis.

Tip: *Be your #1 advocate! Put a hard stop to the day for some self-care.

  • Hold weekly Zoom Happy Hours to chat about non-work issues.
  • Hold regular team meetings to exchange ideas.
  • Hold one-on-one meetings with staff (up and down) to discuss work/issues etc.
  • Above all … be flexible!

Challenge: Experiencing more anxiety issues caused by increased noise, limited spacing, etc.

Tip: *Find a calming app to help deal with the stressors. Check out the Happiness Lab podcast series to help destress.

  • Have open conversations with other people in the house.
  • Share with your team how you are feeling, i.e., you’re exhausted over trying to balance and deal with stress – BE HONEST, BE VALUABLE
  • Put your computer and work stuff away at the end of the day.
  • Cut out too much news and transition to more helpful podcast vs news

Challenge: Trying to get work down vs. giving family attention (including being teacher to your children) when needed.

Tip: *Know that you can only take in so much info a day so limit your intake to avoid overwhelming yourself.

  • Establish your own space.
  • Get into a routine by setting limits on your time.
  • Take breaks during the day

Challenge: Feeling energized especially if you’re losing or pausing clients.

  • Find something meaningful to do, such as starting a new hobby or volunteering for a local cause.
  • Get out as much as possible.
  • Interact with others (at a safe distance of course!).
  • Support local businesses as much as possible.

Challenge: Taking vacation or days off when this is a demanding time for communicators

Tip: Find time to turn it off! Do have to have selfcare; talk to other people … take a break!

  • Ask for a mental health day
  • Shut down with out of office
  • Driveway drive-bys
  • Avoid workspace as much as possible
  • Take advantage of Employee Assistance Programs if your employee provides
  • If you’re self-employed, take vacation with no check-ins.

Look for the positive – create your own environment (i.e., put on your own music). Get into your own space!

So what’s to like about this new work environment? How about the flexibility?

  • Flexible work hours (but stay consistent!)
  • More time to exercise, i.e., online exercise classes
  • Savings on gas, childcare, etc.
  • Less chitchat while trying to get out of work so workday ends when it ends.

The question in the end is How will this time change the way we work?

 

Have tips you’d like to share? Send to info@prsamd.org.

Missed the last few weekly chats? Here you go …

 

We hope this Zoom meeting finds you well!

How we’re living, working, and coping during the COVID-19 crisis.

 

Let’s wrap the week with a dose of optimism and ideas to find a balance. Priming our chat will be three PR pros who are sitting in the middle (you know that space where you have to delegate down and up?) and looking for balance. Add the dimensions of kids or spouses or pets and maybe a little too much videoconferencing? Two are playing substitute teacher. One is an introvert (with no place to go in a small place), another an extrovert. One much prefers the office.

Join Lauren Walbert (Sandy Hillman PR), Emily McDermott (Van Eperen), and Phill Yerby (Weber Shandwick) for a conversation – with you, so come ready to talk! We’re all looking for positive ideas and resources.

The chat will be open with Lauren, Emily and Phill kicking off to get us all talking. Join with or without video.

Dress quarantine casual  ** Pets encouraged ** Heck, kids in the background (or on the lap) are cool **

–Industry News