Lisa Johnson: Pivoting during a pandemic

Whether you were ready for it or not, we have moved into a technology-driven society fueled by the distancing recommendations in place due to COVID-19. We are all stepping out of our comfort zones to reach our audiences through whatever means are necessary since the traditional, face-to-face interactions are a thing of the past.

Many of us were embracing technology already, making sure to have up-to-date social media pages and working on our online and search engine presence. But what about all of this Zooming we are doing now? At the Chamber, none of our meetings or daily interactions were virtual but as the shutdown began in March, almost everything in our world has moved to a more virtual format.

We scrambled to purchase web cameras for our desktop computers that were unequipped; we tried out multiple virtual platforms; and we had many meetings that were complete with hiccups in either scheduling, recording, technically moving about the virtual space or…. well just about anything.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Well, we are doing it and you are, too!

Adapting in this time is necessary and what we are learning “on the job” is all valuable to our experiences as we move forward.

What have we learned?

First, meetings might just be better off offered in a hybrid format as many people we need to get around a table have busy schedules of their own and can’t always break away to drive to where we are and spend an hour with us.

Mistakes will happen and everyone is learning. Sometimes your Internet drops while you are hosting an online meeting. Sometimes you don’t know how to pull up your video, audio or the screen you wanted to show to your virtual group. Guess what? We are all learning some grace in this process and it is important that we make sure to remember we are all human and navigating this new normal together.

One online definition of virtual is “not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.” You exist, I exist and as humans we were made to exist – and interact – together. We need to see one another, make eye contact and share a handshake. Right now, for many instances, this can only happen through Zoom or other such platforms. So, make sure when you join a meeting to show your face, speak up and continue to interact as much as you can.

Our monthly and annual events might look different this year and that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with skipping this COVID year but if you don’t want to, get creative with how you carry on the tradition or essence of your event. You might just find a new alternative you like better.

The moral of the story is – adapt as you can, embrace the technology because it’s here to stay, and be flexible in how you host your normal day-to-day and more frequent activities. We are all learning – and stretching – to do our best and a little virtual never hurt anyone.

Lisa Johnson | President & CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce.