Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Virtual Etiquette Series: Virtual Protocol New Norms in Our “New Normal” by Felicia Shakespeare

I must admit I have seen some of the most hilarious things since having to pivot to the online virtual meeting world. I have taken some situations in stride but I realize some of you may become offended (it’s all in perspective) with how some of the happenings I’ve had to encounter if put in my shoes. So many stories I’ve heard, from teachers virtually teaching students on live meetups with underdressed parents scrolling pass in the background where EVERYBODY can see. In some of what I would deem as more “formal business” virtual meetings, there hasn’t been much of a difference there either.

Here are a few suggestions for you as a virtual meeting host during COVID 19:

1. Virtual Norms of Participation

Set some “Virtual Norms” prior to meeting with your participants. You know how in church some have seen someone pull your coat tail when the talk is a little too long? There have to be parameter expectations set and communicated in advance for guests not because you’re not interested, but because there is only so much time.

2. Honoring Time
Enforce the time limit you gave for the meeting even if you can’t get through all of the material. Remember, everyone still has lives, families, and other obligations even during COVID 19.

3. Dresscode
Dress code, that’s easily understood. Think about the context of the meeting, what is acceptable when you show up live; good hair, some lite makeup, a few accessories (if this is what you normally do). The good thing is the focus is typically “waist up” so stay comfortable waist down. Plan accordingly.

4. House code
Pick a spot where the background is aesthetically appealing and the lighting is good. Make sure the visible area is free of clutter and tidy. You now have the option of choosing virtual backdrops in some software programs.

5. Manage the Noise
Wear headsets to minimize distractions of background noise and to also save others in the home from being subject to your course of the day especially when you don’t live alone.

What I love about these experiences is in many of these situations our peers, superiors, and business partners have now become more humanized. I would stay focused on what you want to accomplish while online because those folks have committed to being present. Now let me hear some of your suggestions! Share below in the comments.

Learn more about Felicia at
Twitter: @iamfelicias

Monday, May 11, 2020

Faith over Fear by Dr. Deborah L. Tillman

It has been said that fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.  Every successful person has felt fear.  Fear is an emotion that shuts out love and joy.  You can become paralyzed by what might happen, and you shut down the possibilities of what could happen.  We can choose to not allow fear to control our lives.  Fear might be in the car with you (hopefully in the back seat) but it does not have to be driving you.  This is our time to live out our faith and do what we were called to do.  You and I cannot reach our potential when we are paralyzed by fear.  We are going to need courage.  Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage believes you can do that difficult thing even while you are afraid.  Fearful people hear good advice.  They listen.  They take notes and they feel encouraged.  Hearing is not what overcomes your fears.  It is DOING!

Let me take you back in history to the Great Depression.  President Roosevelt was elected in 1933, and there were poverty and despair hanging over the nation.  He didn’t deny it.  He said, “Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.”  That is not what we remember, however, from his First Inaugural Address.  He is known in our history for this single declaration: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  There is good fear that keeps us safe and helps us to make good decisions.  Fear was never supposed to make us inactive.  Start planning your pace with your eyes on the goal and take that first step today.  You will find those small steps will turn into a march, and finally, you will be moving in stride and free of that “false evidence appearing real.”  

What is happening in the world is less important than how you are responding to it.  Our children, our family members, our employees are watching how we lead not in times of plenty but in times of lack.  Your children will not remember the newspaper articles, MSNBC, or news conferences, what they will remember is how you, their leader responded during Covid-19.  How will you respond? Will you allow fear to paralyze you? or will you allow fear to fuel you? God does not give us the spirit of fear but of power, and love, and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7).  A sound mind that remains calm even when the storms of life are raging.  Why? because we are Boss Women: Bold, Optimistic, Successful Sisters who are rooted, grounded, and anchored in faith.  Faith that knows without the rain there can be no rainbow.  What keeps fear from controlling my life is that I don’t want to get to the end of my life and have to say I would have, I should have but…. I didn’t.  So I fear nothing but a mediocre life, I fear nothing but an UNFULFILLED PURPOSE!

Learn more about Dr. Tillman at Twitter: @DeborahLTillman

Stand Up & Stand Out: The 5 P’s of Getting Noticed While Working from Home By Kimberly A. Ferguson

Working from a “home office” has become the new normal for many of us. While it certainly has its perks (flexibility, independence, etc.), it does come with a number of new challenges. One challenge that I’m seeing employees face more and more, is staying relevant in this changing workplace. Over the past few weeks, this question has come up repeatedly: How can employees stand up and stand out while working from home?

Staying relevant while working from home is simple. Just remember the 5 P’s of Getting Noticed: Presence, Positivity, Persistence, Promotion, and Progress

Presence: One of my favorite strategies is staying present through the practice of mindfulness. Social Isolation is not easy and can have a toll on our emotional state, and an impact on our interactions with others. Practicing mindfulness allows us to be “consciously present”, pay attention to what is happening at the moment, and manage our feelings and emotions.

Positivity: Our attitudes matter. No matter how grim or dark a situation may appear, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, we must first be present to pay attention to cues the situation gives us. This allows us to approach the situation properly. But we must also tap into the power of positivity, and embrace a “can-do” approach. Instead of focusing on what cannot be done, or what is not working, let’s focus on what we can do to move forward.

Persistence: We’ve heard it said before, and we were taught as children that “if at first, we don’t succeed”, we should “try, try again”. It is important now (more than ever) to practice this, in an effort to position ourselves as persistent problem-solvers. Don’t give up! Instead, as you’re working from home, look for opportunities, and take the initiative to streamline processes and solve problems. Don’t wait to be asked. And be persistent in your efforts to get your ideas heard and problems solved!

Promotion: If you read my book “Marketing You: Be STRATEGIC”, you know I am a fan of self-promotion. Just because we are working from home does not mean that our self-marketing efforts should cease. Instead, we should be ramping up our efforts. We should keep track of our accomplishments, and communicate our progress, “wins”, and solutions to challenges -- with our managers. Schedule regular one-on-ones to provide updates, seek out new opportunities to contribute, and welcome feedback.

Progress: Take advantage of this time to focus on progress and strategically shape your future. Do an honest assessment of the areas in which you are strongest and the areas in which you could improve. Subscribe to industry publications, participate in eLearning, and attend relevant webinars to keep up with industry trends. Include your progress plans in your one-on-one conversations with your managers.

Incorporating the 5 P’s into your daily work strategy will help strengthen your personal power, increase your visibility, and establish a positive, can-do reputation for delivering results.

Kimberly A. Ferguson is a learning & development consultant, career development facilitator, trainer, certified educator, and a regular contributor for the Trenton365 Radio Show.

Twitter: @kfergspeaks