Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication speakers, theorists and coaches. A passionate teacher, he is committed to helping people find clarity in their thinking and ideas – and then delivering them with panache. He has been commissioned by Fortune 50 companies to write for many CEOs and presidents. He has coached people to give Congressional testimony, to appear in the media, and to deliver unforgettable TED talks. And he has himself spoken, led conferences, and moderated panels at venues around the world. During the last election cycle, he provided expert commentary on the presidential debates for CNN. His latest book is Can You Hear Me?, on the perils of virtual communication, published by Harvard in 2018.
In this conversation, Nick talks about Can You Hear Me?
Geetesh: Nick, can you tell us about your new book, Can You Hear Me? What motivated you to write this book about overcoming challenges in communicating virtually?
Nick: I’m passionate about communications, both what we humans say to each other and how we say it — the body language we use to convey our intent and meaning. In the last few years, as I talked to audiences about body language, they started to ask me, “What do I do to communicate with a team that is spread all over the world, and that I never meet face-to-face? What happens to the body language then?” It was that question, asked over and over again, that led me to think about researching and writing the book. And what I found surprised and alarmed me. We have been in the middle of a vast unregulated social experiment, in effect, to see what happens when we humans move half of our communications into various digital channels. The results of the experiment are still coming in, but the early signs are that we are information-overloaded, stressed out, and more isolated than ever. I wrote the book to explore this phenomenon more deeply and to suggest some ways to make our experiment work better.
Geetesh: Who is your typical reader for this book, and what would be their largest takeaway? Also, if there is one thing that readers can do to communicate better in the virtual world, what would that be?
Nick: The typical reader is someone who works in a team with members all over the world, or someone who must communicate with her customers or suppliers virtually. This reader sometimes struggles with information overload, stress, and feelings of isolation and wants to know how to make her online experience a better one.
One thing readers can do is to begin to ask, and to answer when someone asks them: “How did what I just say make you feel?” In person, face-to-face, we humans can immediately tell how the other person responds to what we say. But if we’re communicating virtually, that’s often very hard to tell. So, we have to learn to ask out loud.