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How to Nurture Relationships in a World Without Handshakes

Written by: Teri Goudie
Published on: Aug 26, 2021
This article is published in the 2021 edition of the
Women in Medicine Summit Compendium
Click here to find out more and read the other articles

By Teri Goudie

It is a very good time to be in medicine. People are invested in their health more than ever before and many people now understand what a clinical trial is all about. You have an audience eager for your expertise and ready to turn to you for trusted wisdom and guidance.

In addition to this new appreciation for health, we are also experiencing a revolution in communication. Technologies like telehealth and Zoom have been around for a decade, but COVID-19 has accelerated the rate of adoption, leaving us to use these new tools without proper training. There is no manual and no chance to practice. You are on.

The way we talk, listen and watch each other has changed dramatically. Often we are meeting with people we may never see in person. Our virtual world of communication calls for connection in a new way. Every day we are being asked to create relationships in a world without actual handshakes..

The key to conquering this new reality might surprise you: go back to the basics of good patient communication. The way you prioritize content with a patient works for you during a virtual panel presentation. The way you use emotion as a source of connection works for you in a hospital board meeting. The way you come down to eye level with a child works for you during Zoom.

Your effectiveness in communication depends on three words: simple, visual and memorable.

Let’s start with simple. Ask yourself: “What is the most important idea I want to teach in this meeting?” Start with that and be intentional. People trust those who know where they are going.

Use the power of visuals both in your delivery and in the examples you choose. When making a virtual appearance, your body language should be open and your face well lit, ideally with natural light. Make sure your eyes are level with the lens, much like when you adjust your chair in a face-to-face meeting. When using examples, make sure to paint verbal pictures to illustrate your points. People want the things they can “see.”

Finally, memorable. Memorable happens when you deliver your information via a natural, conversational flow. During my Women in Medicine Summit session, I offer a simple template designed to help you create an efficient one-minute elevator pitch. The model will give you the ability to design a simple story that will stick in the mind of your audience and thus drive behavior change.

Many people are still yearning to get “back to normal.” However, I believe we deserve to come back from the pandemic stronger and better, not just normal. Stronger and better in how we practice medicine. Stronger and better in how we work and respect each other. Stronger and better in how we communicate.

Communication is immensely personal; it is also what makes us unique. People will trust you if you trust yourself.

Teri GoudieTeri Goudie

A former ABC news journalist and considered one of the world’s top communication consultants. She has coached some of the world’s leading CEOs, doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers and technologists. Her clients have included Abbott, G.E., Genentech, Google, United Airlines, the Sean Parker Cancer Institute and many major medical associations and research centers. She is currently on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic helping scientists, doctors and business leaders navigate crisis through virtual communication. She recently published a new book, “The Leadership Renaissance: Blending the Art and Science of You.”

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