How to NOT SUCK at being a human in a 2D world

I was trying to think back on what life was like in the 80s before we were glued to our devices to do all of our communicating. I used to read magazines. I used to read books. I used to make those little fortune-teller games out of scraps of paper (okay, I was in elementary school in the 80s...). Point being: I'm trying to think of better ways to deliver content than on screen.

So today I wrote a letter. I went through my Christmas card mailing list and I wrote a letter. I asked my friend if she wanted to be my pen pal. Remember pen pals? You write a letter... on paper... and you mail it to someone. Then (and this is the crazy part) they write you back! Will she respond? I don't know (she probably can't even read my handwriting!), but I hope so! In fact, maybe I'll write another letter to someone else, too, just in case.

Nicole and I are experimenting with different ways to get Haute Dokimazo content out to our followers and fans, including videos, podcasts (easily created from the audio tracks of the videos we record), mailers, and more, so if you haven't joined our mailing list (email or physical), be sure to do so here.

As we build out each piece of content and the delivery method for it, we've curated our 10 core principles of how to make being human in a 2D world not suck:

10. Give a damn. Whether it's a letter to a friend, an article in a magazine, or your case study of a customer, you have to give a damn that the content you're serving up will provide value to the end user. All too often, we get driven by our content calendar and default to churning out useless drivel just to meet a deadline. Publish less, but make it more valuable content. Your followers will thank you for it.

9. Think about the way your target audience wants to consume your content before thinking about your quota. Do you market to healthcare professionals? I'd be willing to bet they are not interested in watching your hour-long webinar right now. What can you give them that will help them be successful and feel appreciated right now, while also delivering relevant content? Do you market to event professionals? Maybe they are working on pivoting in-person events to virtual, so what can you do to aid them in that transition that would stand out from everyone else?

8. Give to get. The problem with the online world is that everyone wants everything to be free, especially right now. But if you are providing value, there is still room to sell. You have a solution, people have a problem: find the value space. But give freely right up until you hit that point. For example: I'm seeing a lot of SaaS product extend their free trial from 14 days to 90 days, endearing prospects to you and ensuring they can't without three months from now. For Haute Dokimazo, we're ramping up our content machine with freely available content, but we are definitely "for hire" and available to create remote experiences for teams, customers, and prospects. On the flip side, as a buyer, negotiate conscientiously. Find value where you can, but don't undercut talent and prey on their desperate need to have any amount of income.

7. Engage and be engaging. If you suffer from resting bored face, resist being seen on camera, or work very hard to appear interested. It's extremely disheartening to have a conversation with someone who is clearly doing something else.

6. Eyebrows up! This is Nicole's favorite engagement tip: by raising your eyebrows in conversation, you actively convey that you're listening, interested, engaged, and ready to engage in a "speaking volley."

5. Co-create the conversation. If you're in sales or biz dev, work with your prospect to co-create the conversation. And by that I mean: have an actual interest in their business and their problem BEFORE you launch into your solution. I know you're giving the same pitch all day, every day, but by understanding what problem your prospect is trying to solve first, you can tailor your conversation better. This prevents you being bored with your own pitch, as well as ensures your prospect is engaged because they immediately see the relevance of your content.

4. Pause for breath. Verbal volleyball. Conversations are two-way. That means you have to pause and let the other person talk, too. Don't forget to do that. This is also important on one-way webinars. Pause to let people react in chat or whatever conversational outlet you have created for them. Also respect people's time. If you can deliver your content in 15 to 30 minutes instead of hour, do it.

3. Have an arsenal of great open-ended questions that give others a chance to talk. Go beyond, "How are you hanging in there?" and "How are you dealing with the kids' school work?" and push further in to "What's your go-to dinner been lately?" or "Your audio is awesome, what kind of headset are you using?"

2. Everything is personal. It's not about the sob story or the commiserating about the situation we're in. It's making people feel like you get them and you care about their well-being. Be aware that you are looking inside people's homes. Sometimes even their bedroom. Don't judge the mess around them, just focus on them.

1. Grace. Not the kind you say at dinner. The kind that has to do with patience. If your cat walks on your computer and shuts down your Zoom, tell the participants that when you log back in! Kid interrupt your executive presentation? Put him in your lap, have him say hello, then shoo him out of the room while you finish. Oh, and expect that to happen to others, as well. Smile at it, then move on with your conversation.

Just remember, even though our friends, family, colleagues, and customers are like an animated version of Flat Stanley, there are real humans there. So be just as friendly, kind, attentive, and caring as you would be in person because it won't be long before you see them again!

Liz Lathan, CMP is Co-Founder and CEO of Haute Dokimazo, a Spontaneous Think Tank company that empowers participants to solve their business challenges. Haute Dokimazo is part of Haute Companies, a family of companies anchored in human connection. From events to media (podcasts, videos, and more) to direct mail to talent management to strategy session facilitation, Haute Companies can support your goals with Haute Dokimazo, Haute Rock Creative, Swag Hub, Haute Spot, and Haute Rock Entertainment.