Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Until the advent of the telephone, communication was face-to-face (yes, there were letters, telegraph, smoke signals, drums, but here we are covering daily communications between regular people). It was one human being using spoken words to be received by another human’s ears. The important matters of businesses, town councils, and governments took place in meetings, where one not only received information but could also see the emotional state of the person speaking. The telephone changed that somewhat especially when the speakerphone (and later the video camera) was invented. However, people still gathered together in real time and space to discuss matters of importance. Then came text messaging and the internet.

Yes, live meetings became the bane of existence for business people. These meetings got the reputation of time wasters, where you were trapped in a room accomplishing little after spending a good chunk of time getting there. So with the creation of electronic devices accessed through high-speed connections, one can be anywhere on the planet and still participate. Cool, right? That’s if there is a video feed to the equation. Most of the time, people just “text” or “post”. So what you get, in essence, is an electronic letter to read which can be misinterpreted in its meaning. Sorry, but “e-moticons” do not count. As humans we need face-to-face communication not only to discern the speaker’s emotional state but also to be able to immediately ask a question to clarify something confusing.

A prime example of how this faceless communication not occurring in real time can go wrong, was recently when President-elect Trump sent his infamous tweet with the word “Nazi” in it. He knew why he was using that to backup a point of his but did anyone other than historians and Baby Boomers get what he was referring to? No. And since tweeting isn’t “real time” even if someone responded to his tweet asking for clarification, he didn’t have the time to send out another tweet to do so. That hardly happens in real time meetings and we saw this during the press conference when a reporter brought it up and Trump went on to explain himself. Bingo, the entire watching universe understood.

I’m not saying that tweeting or texting should be avoided. We can’t go back to the days before these devices and programs were available. However, like we all learned with the e-mail universe, once you hit the send button it’s out there for better or worse. With faceless communications, we all need to try very hard not to say things in a confusing manner or make references that only a certain portion of the population gets (hmm, like telling an in joke that can backfire on you when most of the listeners don’t get it!) It’s also great that now our chief executive can communicate instantly with the masses. Very few previous Presidents had either the technology or the skill to use it as he does.

Meetings have become the dinosaur of the 21st century and Twitter and Facebook have taken its place. It doesn’t matter if you are the President of the United States, or a 12 year old communicating with her best friend, what you say can become a disastrous opportunity to be misunderstood. Keep the message simple, avoid jargon or historical/political references, and you should be on safer ground as a 21st century communicator.

Remember that old-time saying “They’re talking about you behind your back.”? In today’s digital world of smartphones, iPads, tablets, Twitter, and Facebook, the “behind your back” is the wifi stream! Today’s technology gives everyone the ability to comment on YOU in real time to not one person but hundreds of people. And depending upon the situation, this can be a bonus or a career killer.

Mostly speakers at conferences have had to deal with the death by tweet. But if you think you are imune from this phenomenon, think again. Here are some examples I have personally encountered:

A college professor friend of mine whose presentations tend to be on the boring side got fed up with his students diverting their attention to their cell phones. What a shock he got, when after banning their use one person anonomously e-mailed some of his classmates negative comments that were posted during the class!

I’m sitting in a workshop quite enraptured by the presenter’s information on a new artist’s work. One attendee continuously breaks in with what she knows, which is more than the presenter. Where is she getting it? Google in real time!

On one of my favorite TV shows, a person is interviewing for a nanny for his kids. Right in the middle of the interview, the current candidate answers her smart phone and has the audacity to comment to the interviewer about how she must tweet about getting this position with someone so important. TV scripting? Nope, I’ve heard this from some of my friends who’ve conducted interviews.

On the flip side, positive tweets and Facebook postings spread the speaker’s reach beyond the flour walls. It’s an opportunity to brand oneself as an expert without excerting any effort beyond the presentation.

When people are open to sharing negative messages with the individual (along with positve sugestions for improvement) it can also be a valuable means to self-improvement.

 In this world of mutlitasking it takes more to capture attention then ever before. Studies have shown that young people would be willing to give up their sense of smell for their technology. Thus technology has become a “6th sense”. To the digitally connected 24/7 technology gives them more friends than they could have without the connections, more power to express their opinions, and instant interaction with a community of like minds. Can you beat that?

 So what can you do about this situation? Banning those devices is not the answer as my professor friend found out. First, you have to accept the fact that even before technology, people were making negative comments. Second, know your audience  and make sure your subject matter “matters” to them. Be as entertaining as your personality, material, and situation allows. Keep in the back of your mind that your material should also be worth sharing. Ask for feedback from both the bodies in the room and the bodies in cyberspace. Remember, your audience is potentially a lot larger than the room you are in, and that can be a positive for you. Lastly, spend some time Googling yourself, your company, your topic, and see what comments are floating around in cyberspace!

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it that can get you into trouble!

Sign on a golf course that a friend posted on my Facebook wall:
Any persons (except players) caught collecting golf balls on this course will be prosecuted and have their balls removed.

The movie “Avatar” was a box office smash. I wonder how many of us would like to realize that fantasy of inhabiting a body totally different from our human one. Though all of this is science fiction, avatars do exist. We have been creating them in cyberspace since the birth of the internet. Every social networking profile we create, every blog we author, every website we create, produces a persona slightly removed from our living, breathing one.

In the movie our hero believes that he can function as this other alien individual, and keep his feelings and ethics suppressed. How wrong he is! As a writer I have always been fascinated by how, solely through the use of words, one can create a totally different identity. That is, as long as no one meets you in the flesh!

In the real world we are coached to put our best face forward, to dress and talk as we wish the world to perceive us. Fortunately, communications happen in real time with subtle clues that give feedback, and modifications can sometimes be made on the spot (or at least apologies for a foot in the mouth comment!) Not so online. We blog, reply to blog postings, set up “profiles” in Linkedin, Facebook, post questions or replies on forums/bulletin boards, write letters to editors, send out press releases, and create “bios” on our websites….what picture do all of these words in cyberspace paint? In the digital world you are what you write and the words that you used to build your “avatar” in cyberspace can come back to haunt you.

Some of these words you carefully crafted with an image in mind but they don’t really resemble the true you/brand/business (and you thought no one would ever find out!). Others are words you posted in the heat of “passion” as replies to what someone else said. And then there are the insidious words, words you wrote somewhere, anywhere, that find their way into cyberspace without your permission. Lastly, there are words others have written about you that aren’t true.

Is it possible to get control of your cyberspace image? Yes, and here are 8 rules to help you control your “Avatar”:

Rule #1: You can only control what you post on your websites and profiles. Everything else can be edited, quoted out of context or impossible to remove.

Rule # 2: Knowledge empowers. Find out what cyberspace is saying about you. Google yourself at least once a month. Do a search on your name (and variations of it i.e. with a middle initial), a search on your business (Or employer along with your name).

Rule # 3: Go beyond Google results. Once you’ve got the search list, click on all the links. Even what looks obviously as something you posted. Sometimes your words might be as you wrote them but are on a website you really don’t want to be associated with.

Rule # 4: Accept that some of the hits will puzzle you. I had this happen when my name appeared on a link to a porn site. Yes, a porn site! I clicked through and read the text (ugh), did a page search for my name (didn’t come up), checked other pages (disgusting), and even looked at the html source. My name was nowhere! This has happened numerous times (only once porn) so I am clueless as to where the Google bots found it. But at least I know it was in the search list and would be able to defend myself if anyone brought this up.

Rule # 5: If you can’t edit or delete the information, be prepared to defend it. This is especially true of negative stories in the press, which can be corrected if proven inaccurate but will rarely be removed. However, do try to get your words removed if possible. Sometimes, a webmaster will comply. Most times not. If it’s just an inaccuracy, well, as I said in rule # 2: Knowledge empowers. You know it exists. If it is slanderous, could jeopardize a client or employer relationship, get tough. Threaten a law suite.

Rule # 6: Don’t trust websites that say they can unearth information about you…for a price. The major search engines will come up with 99% of your cyberspace existence. The others either will give you information from the printed world i.e. motor vehicle, police records, which is not your goal here or they are just scamming you into giving them money.

Rule #7: Keep tabs on your cyberspace self. Establish Google Alerts for your name and any of the terms you would check. As Google finds new information with those terms posted on the Web, you will receive an e-mail or RSS feed.

Rule #8: Be aware. Now that you know what is out there and how it can be mangled, be conscious of every word you post online.