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The virtual adviser – how can you make the most of working virtually in your advice business?

“No-one wants to turn their video on”

Here’s another opportunity for you to bring leadership. Not everyone is going to be comfortable with turning on their videos and for some it is not even possible. I’m used to virtual working yet many of my clients based in China struggle with having sufficient bandwidth to be able to incorporate video into the calls. But you can adapt to this problem:

Working without video

  • Inviting others to bring their coffee/tea for a virtual cuppa can create a feeling of ease to have a drink available. We normally think of a drink as a stopping point or pause in our day or see them as a social activity.
  • Inviting people to share where they are working – it might be a home office or dining room but it might not be. Explore who else is around (partner, children, barking dog!) so you can get a little into their world and some of the challenges of working in this way.
  • Tune up your listening skills and focus. Being more attentive to the unsaid messages in their tone, expressions and concerns etc. can help you support those on the call to have a better experience as you work together. So much of working with others is supported by non-verbal cues. This is a reason why working virtually can be quite tiring – we can’t rely on normal habits.
  • Sharing your intention for the conversation at the start to bring clarity.
  • Checking how much time they have – They may have other commitments and then you don’t overrun or outstay your welcome.
  • What is their experience of virtual meetings? It’s likely that your colleagues will be used to it through regular conference calls and webinars but clients might not be so in tune. However, things are changing rapidly with both personal options such as facetime, house party etc. through to much more corporate offerings such as Zoom, Skype, Teams ++. Take your time and be patient.
  • Prepare and practice. Perhaps you can invite people to explore turning their video on and be ready to talk the through how they can minimise their own image and have the images of others instead? Ensure that you are familiar with all the navigational controls and tools available for the particular package you are using, including how to share your screen and data – practice makes perfect.

“It’s not the same as meeting together and picking up on the body language”

Virtual will have to come a long way for it to be the same as face to face meetings. However, with a high performance mindset we can bring attention to the other person/people in a way in which it can be a brilliant alternative.

Get yourself ready

  • Think about your audience and your intention with specific objectives as to the outcomes required made clear to everyone involved.
  • Ensure your system is working and that your lighting enables the other person to see your face (a warm coloured light bulb can soften our features and is much kinder than bright sunlight).
  • Have any materials you want to share open on your laptop/computer. Sharing is then really easy.
  • Have an open email to the others joining you whether clients or team members. You can then quickly circulate documents in one hit after the session.
  • Think about your audience, exploring in your mind whether they are extroverted or introverted as they will need different things and will also need you to facilitate differently with them. You may need to be ready to interrupt the extrovert whereas you may need to encourage the introvert to share their perspective and reflections.

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