Remote work, while awesome, comes with it’s own unique set of challenges. One such challenge is the question of how one can express themselves and sell their ideas to the rest of your distributed team.
While we all believe that we favor rational analysis over emotions when it comes to decision making, evolutionary psychology suggests that emotions can never fully be suppressed when it comes to communicating ideas. “We like to think we’re not animals, but we are,” says Brian Shapiro, author of the book, “Exceptionally Human: Successful Communication in a Distracted World.” Creative and intensively collaborative teams are often built around a culture and ethos where a bunch of ideas get bounced off of each other, demos get build, PoCs are passed around and foundational to all of this the imperative to express yourself clearly and get your ideas across with the same degree of enthusiasm that you may have about it.
As teams become more remote and distributed and calendars and schedules are becoming more flexible, it’s really important for you to be able to not only communicate and sell your ideas to your teammates but also be able to get nuances across that may not be easy to grasp. Here are a few useful tips and ideas:
Use visual cues and well written documentation: It becomes really important to be able to convey your ideas clearly in a way that is easy for people receiving that piece of information to be able to quickly grasp the core concepts. The last thing you want is some nugget of an idea that gets buried within an exploding cat gif in your slack channels or a mega email that no one wants to read. Show visual elements, flow charts, sequence diagrams, anything else that might be useful.
Be succinct but not cryptic: You want to be succinct but not veer the pendulum to the other side to the point of being cryptic. Start with the “Why” and articulate the vision, the idea, the need and any other dimensions that might need to be considered. Again you are trying to quickly convey to your teammates, core concepts and dimensions quickly. It’s not crucial they get every single minutiae about your idea, but you want to be able to get your team interested in having deeper conversations once they are bought into the concept.
Know your audience: It’s important to know who your audience within your team you is and clearly articulate dimensions of your idea that might be relevant to that specific set of stakeholders. If it’s developers, clearly talk about the technology dimensions, product dimensions, metrics and anything else that might get you interesting and useful feedback that you can use to further develop or refine your idea.
Harness the power of audio and video: Make “your” voice heard. It’s very powerful to be able to use recorded video messages where you walk through your idea but at the same time recording your own voice and video providing commentary and important aspects of the idea. A lot of communication essentially happens through non-verbal cues and this becomes very important in remote teams, for your teammates to be able to hear the core thesis of your idea along with nuances and feel how you “feel about the idea”. The energy and enthusiasm you have may not come across in text or in a formal video conference.
As we all move to an increasingly remote world, it’s important to keep that energy and dynamic of a creative workplace going. It’s important to not only build that environment in a distributed setting but find new and interesting ways to both express your ideas and also engage with those ideas in meaningful ways with the rest of your team.