Fonts are important to give language a design and branding. Fonts turn words into impactful triggers on an audience’s different senses. Font psychology and choice are something a communicator can’t afford to overlook.

Did you know that fonts were originally created by hand? Printers would arrange the letters and characters in their (work)shop and so a font was often named after the printer who created it. Take Garamond, named after the French printer Claude Garamonde. Or Bodoni, named after the Italian typographer Giambattista Bodoni: Their fonts are still in use today. Classic and universally recognizable.

Giving font selection careful thought when (re)designing your brand, website, brochure or other collateral is as important today as it was back then. What would fonts say about themselves if they could speak?

“My name is Times New Roman > I am not original”
“My name is Comic Sans > People do not take me seriously”
“My name is Helvetica > I look good in everything: From email, to PPT slides or as the Mac system font”

Covid-19 hit most companies when their organizational culture still showed a top-down working style: Stylish top management corner offices, employees required to punch in and out for work, and pay checks tied to attendance (rather than performance). Will the quarantine change conservative corporate culture for good?

Actually, The Netherlands, was the first country to revolutionize work and communication practices long before Covid-19 and the concept of the 6-Feet-office.They invented the new, remote way of working – with creative agencies and tech start-ups as early adopters. Some examples of how they replaced Presenteeism by activity-based working:

Virtual ‘check in’
Employees work any time and anywhere: They don’t clock in or out, but start the day by sending a ‘check-in’ photo to an internal app group

Output only
Employees have a personal work plan (results to achieve) and submit daily work reports through apps. Their actual hours worked don’t matter – their discipline does

Around the globe
Employees adopt agile working principles, technology and facilities. They work location-free (being based anywhere in the world) and are part of virtual teams. All documentation needed from “the office” can be accessed without ever going near the building

Email ban
Despite a blurred border between home and work, employees have the right to disconnect: Their company sets its internal servers to not route emails to employees during certain hours/times. The result: Increased staff well-being and health

Travel ban
Travel policies are updated, avoiding travel whenever possible and encouraging virtual meetings

Office space
Open-plan designs and creative spaces replace traditional offices, which nurtures innovative ideas, speed up decision-making and foster cultural change. Some companies install English telephone booths (the iconic red phone kiosks from the UK), allowing personal phone calls. The phone cabins provide oxygen for 1 hour max. (no joke)

Leaders lead
Leaders are assessed annually on how well they support agile working of their teams. This feeds into their bonus. All board members are visible, and have so-called casual collisions with employees anywhere around the building. Perfect internal communication!

Work is a product
“Work” is no longer a place to go to. It’s an activity for a purpose. A “job” is no longer a list of tasks performed by an employee, but a tradeable commodity that is paid by results. To get a piece of work done, companies put out a request on the internet and offer it to an independent contractor or freelancer, who, in turn, bids for work online and gets paid for results.

So – will the quarantine change conservative corporate culture for good?

Yes, I think organizations will be transforming from rigid employers to flexible networks in order to get the best results from people. Look at Twitter or Facebook: They just announced they’ll allow their employees to work from home ‘forever’.

2020: Welcome to a planet in quarantine (aka Corona pandemic). Around the world, live meetings are out, digital is in. Whether you use Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts or Facetime (to name, but a few), the principles for online meeting success remain amazingly consistent when you follow a few basic steps.

In the past few months, people have asked me to share tips on how to run good online workshops and meetings. It turns out I have quite some experience with that, so, here’s my personal shortlist of take-aways. No particular order. They work.

1. Create your video studio

  • Create a professional or plain background behind you for every videoconference
  • Install adequate lighting and a decent microphone (most earbuds work fine)

2. Dress for success (at least the parts visible onscreen)

  • Dress for the day
  • Your morning prep routine determines your mindset for the day. Don’t join conference calls in bed in your pajamas (even though it’s tempting …)
  • Brush your teeth

3. Do a dry run

  • Be sure the system works. Technical complications mean trouble
  • Do the slides work? The sound? Are pictures in the presentation compressed to reduce file size and bandwidth, thus reducing the risk of freezing or unresponsive connections?

4. Turn off

5. Interact

  • Call on people
  • Don’t go more than five minutes without asking a question — even if you just ask participants to write quick answers in a chat box. This gets people’s thoughts going
  • When you do want an answer, call on someone specific. Then people will have to pay attention. They don’t want to be the person who fumbles, isn’t ready to unmute or missed the question

6. Be crisp

  • What’s true for a live presentation is doubly true for a presentation online. Keep your messages brisk
  • Use short sentences
  • Use the power of 3 (bullet points per slide)
  • Shorten the session. A two-hour live workshop equals a 60-minute online version. Live events consist of 50% non-verbal and only-social interaction. Not so relevant in the online version
  • Compress your content, and people leave hungry for more, motivated to do assignments afterwards

7. Entertain

  • Nothing is worse than a dull monotone voice, reading the bullets on a screen
  • Play with the tone and pitch of your voice, change your speech rhythm, throw in a silly joke — whatever works with your personality
  • The key is to be a little unpredictable

If you’re looking for an individual 2-hour coaching session of how to better communicate in online meetings, contact danibu.