evoke Blog

Vernon Roberts is an author, master instructor, coach and speaker. He founded Evoke in 2003.

Vernon Roberts is an author, master instructor, coach and speaker. Vernon is the founder of Evoke Learning, Inc. (2003)  and holds a B.A. in Economics/Business Administration from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) and an M.B.A. from Loyola University’s Sellinger School of Business and Management in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Attended a Bad Virtual Meeting? Not So Fast! You Have a Responsibility as a Participant

Attended a Bad Virtual Meeting? Not So Fast! You Have a Responsibility as a Participant

We Know There Are Bad Virtual Meetings
If I were to ask you to raise your hand if you have ever attended a bad virtual meeting, I'm certain that it would be a majority. If you've read my articles, you know that I harp on the importance of leaders taking responsibility to run an engaging virtual meeting that accomplishes the intended results. I still believe that the leader carries this responsibility to lead differently in the virtual workspace. What I also believe is that the participants of the meeting bear a responsibility as well. The next time you gripe about a bad meeting, I want you to ask yourself what you did to help make it better. Did you apply some self-leadership to help right the ship or did you let it sink while increasing your multi-tasking as you stayed on mute? It's that old adage, “If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” As our workplace becomes increasingly more virtual, it will be up to all team members to contribute in making the virtual workplace experience valuable and productive. If participants of meetings fail to take responsibility for their experience, remote and virtual teams may begin to disappear along with the flexible lifestyle that they provide team members. The bottom line is that bad virtual meetings threaten the existence of virtual teams.

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Guest — Prasanta Shee
By diligently following above mentioned points, one can successfully conduct virtual meetings using tools like webex, R-HUB web co... Read More
Friday, 15 September 2017 06:37
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Working Remotely is NOT the Issue. Teaching Leaders to Manage It Is - 3 Fixes

Working Remotely is NOT the Issue. Teaching Leaders to Manage It Is - 3 Fixes

The Virtual Path Is More Difficult
Anyone knows that walking a greenway is very different than hiking a mountain trail. It takes a more intentional focus to walk the trail because the footing is not as sure and the walk is more strenuous. I look at leading virtual teams in the same way. With remote jobs increasing 52% over the past year (as noted by Flexjobs 2017), leaders continue to manage these remote workers as if they were managing a co-located team. This is where the problem lies because managing virtual teams is a more strenuous activity and the global footing is definitely not as sure.

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3 Fatal Virtual Presenter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

3 Fatal Virtual Presenter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Okay, not life threatening ... but fatal to any chance you have of influencing your listeners. You know that person that's dreadful to listen to on a virtual call? The person that makes you want to mentally check out when they speak? You don't want people thinking of you or your teammates that way. I've personally coached more than 5,000 presenters globally. During that time, I've seen many unintentional, but common mistakes most presenters make. Some mistakes are certainly expected and won't do much damage. What I term as "fatal" mistakes endanger your message, hinder the audience's ability to engage with you and could damage your reputation. Yes, your reputation as a speaker, collaborator or leader is at stake.

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1 + 1 Doesn’t Equal Two When Presenting Virtually

1 + 1 Doesn’t Equal Two When Presenting Virtually

The Same But Different
This simple equation, 1+1=2, does not always prove to be true when placed in a virtual environment. Presenters who are good in the face-to-face environment may or may not have the same level of expertise in the virtual environment. One great face-to-face presenter plus one virtual environment does not always equal one great virtual presenter. The same holds true for experienced instructors.

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Why Virtual Meetings SUCK! Three Cures (Part 1)

Why Virtual Meetings SUCK! Three Cures (Part 1)

Imagine closing the clear glass door to your conference room and walking to your seat at the table to begin your meeting. While your eyes look to the fourteen people in the room, their eyes don't return your gaze. More than half of them have their eyes on their computer screens typing away. Several others have their eyes transfixed on their phone screens and, amazingly, some individuals are talking audibly on their phones. As you begin to speak, not one person seems to acknowledge that you are doing so. Mike and Sarah are actually leaning back in their chairs looking right through you as they talk on their phones! I'll grant you that this crazy scene would NEVER happen in your face-to-face conference room meeting. Never. Why? Because there is a basic level of human respect that we afford each other when we are in another human’s presence. If that is true, then why do we let this happen every day in our virtual meetings across the globe?

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Managing a Virtual Team is Harder! 5 Tips to make it Easier

Managing a Virtual Team is Harder! 5 Tips to make it Easier

There is an interesting trend happening in the workplace. Leaders are pulling workers back from home offices and remote locations in favor of more easily managed, collocated teams. It most notably happened three years ago when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously said, "To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices."

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Does Your Virtual Team Have Dotted Line Responsibilities?

Does Your Virtual Team Have Dotted Line Responsibilities?

It's a double whammy. A team working virtually is difficult enough to manage. There are workers in different geographic locations whom you rarely see but collectively hold your corporate life in their hands. Now, many leaders are faced with the added complexity of having members of their teams work with dotted line responsibilities to other leaders in the organization (Matrixed Teams). This can be confusing for team members, ultimately creating questions of loyalty for the worker, contradictions in assignment priorities, and utilization issues. No matter what anyone tells you, no matter what fancy equations they use, a person can only be utilized 100%. Expecting to get more than 100% from one person is a set-up for failure.

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5 Important Questions to Evaluate Yourself as a Virtual Leader

5 Important Questions to Evaluate Yourself as a Virtual Leader

If you are reading this, you intimately know the daily challenges you face leading a virtual team. In my experience, it is difficult enough managing a team that you lock eyes on every day. With virtual team management, you not only need foundational management skills, but you have to artfully customize those skills to bridge the distance between you and the team and team members with each other.

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How to Avoid Overusing Email on Your Virtual Team

How to Avoid Overusing Email on Your Virtual Team

Do you spend a good amount of time each day reading emails on one of your numerous devices with a screen? Studies have shown that we spend just over one month a year reading email. Sometimes these emails tend to be a chain of conversations that you simply were CC'ed on and don't care about. Other times you are not sure of the action you need to take as a result of reading the email. When this happens, you send back yet another email with a clarifying question. I'm not even going to get into all the "reply to all" emails that clog up our in boxes.

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The Power of 168 for Working Virtually

The Power of 168 for Working Virtually

By unleashing the Power of 168 (as noted in Vernon’s book The Gift of Success and Happiness with Chip Sawicki), you can build relationships, careers, families and empires. You can build your dream, whatever it is and you can master working virtually. So what is 168? 168 is your resource, your allowance, your grant, your budget, your clay. It’s the hours that everyone on the planet is given each week. One hundred and sixty-eight glorious hours packed into seven days. How are you spending it? Many take their 168 for granted. Do you invest it or do you blow it? Most track their money more diligently than their 168. If you had 168 pieces of gold, would you throw any away? My guess is no.

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Is Your Training Aligned (Linked) with Your Business Partner's Objectives?

Is Your Training Aligned (Linked) with Your Business Partner's Objectives?

Don't let your instructor-led or virtual training disappear because you weren't able to articulate it's value. Many a good idea or project has failed to be supported or adopted because the value wasn't clearly evident. That's a failure on the teller of the story. The challenge is that we've tried to show the financial value by calculating the ROI of our training. I don't know about you, but calculating the ROI of training has always seemed as if we were proving the existence of the mythical unicorn. There are so many variables in the training ROI equation that the product of this calculation is soft and intangible.

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Are You Two-Dimensional to Your Virtual Team? Tips to Become Three-Dimensional

Are You Two-Dimensional to Your Virtual Team? Tips to Become Three-Dimensional

Are you or your team two-dimensional to each other? Do you know anything about each other? Are you familiar with who they really are or what they care about? Would you be surprised to know what their passion is or the challenges that they face personally and professionally? The challenge for many of us, whether we lead or work on a virtual team, is that we are faceless paper cutouts to each other. We are two-dimensional people in a three-dimensional world.

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You Are Only As Good As Your Communication on a Virtual Team

You Are Only As Good As Your Communication on a Virtual Team

I don't think that this comes as a surprise that success on a virtual team is all about communication. We all know that good leaders need to be able to engage and motivate their teams to attain a shared corporate goal. A 2015 study found that one of the top three development priorities for leaders is the ability to connect and clearly provide direction during informal feedback and coaching sessions. The challenge is, according to research from Development Dimensions International (DDI), that leaders frequently do the opposite in their interactions with their teams. They often fail to provide clear direction or feedback and this results in lackluster productivity on a team. This inability to drive the vision through their organization reduces the leader’s influence in the broader organization and with their employees and peers.

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Guest — Marilyn Kobus
Vernon, I resonate with your points about seeking out and being open to feedback. It takes courage to offer it and courage to rec... Read More
Saturday, 23 January 2016 04:23
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Leading in Your Pajamas: One Resolution for Your Virtual Team … Relationship Reviews

Leading in Your Pajamas: One Resolution for Your Virtual Team … Relationship Reviews

Use the fresh start and the energy that the new year brings to your advantage for your virtual team. Relationships are the life blood of successful communication and collaboration. If successful salespeople perform annual relationship reviews with their clients, why can't you do the same with your virtual team?

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Your Clients Asked for a Cost Effective Virtual Training Option ... So What's the Problem?

Your Clients Asked for a Cost Effective Virtual Training Option ... So What's the Problem?

Humans are ingenious when there is a problem that needs to be solved. Finite fossil fuels gave rise to hybrid and electronic vehicles. A cordless environment brought by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Less invasive outpatient surgeries via laser technology. Reduced training budgets and global workforces giving rise to more face-to-face training and travel. What? One of these examples is not like the other.

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Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast on Virtual Teams

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast on Virtual Teams

"The best laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry". This adapted saying from a Robert Burns' work can be leveraged to describe what happens to global virtual teams when cultural issues are ignored. Culture is what makes us all different and interesting. However, culture misunderstood drives a wedge between us.

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Information Can Kill Virtual Teams

Information Can Kill Virtual Teams

You can't over communicate. I've said this numerous times to technology leaders that I coach as they manage large scale change projects. My point is that in the absence of information people begin to make up their own story and nine times out of 10, it isn't pretty. On the other hand, too much information does the same thing. Massive amounts of information can overwhelm people to the point that they don't read anything. Some leaders send a weekly newsletter to their entire team that is packed full of information.

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Think Before You MUTE

Think Before You MUTE

Liam was getting ready to start an important meeting. He looked around the room and everybody seemed to be doing their own thing. The room held fourteen around an oval table. All seats were full. As he scanned the room, many were typing, some were reading email and others were having conversations on their phones. As he begin to speak, not one person looked up at him.

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Leading in Your Pajamas ... 3 Tips to Improve Your Virtual Communications

Leading in Your Pajamas ... 3 Tips to Improve Your Virtual Communications

OK, that's not exactly accurate. I have never led meetings in my pajamas, just running shorts. Sometimes I top the shorts and running shoes off with a collared shirt and a blazer if the occasion calls for it. Not cute, right? Would I walk outside of my home like this? Never. But because I do know the importance of using a web-cam and streaming video during a virtual meeting, I create the business image for those viewing my video feed. What I've realized over the years is that any distraction can take away the focus of those communicating with you, especially if it's a more formal communication.

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9 Tips for Working Virtually from Home

9 Tips for Working Virtually from Home

Working virtually from a home office can provide benefits as well as challenges. Here are nine tips I'll share to reap the benefits. Please add any other tips that you found helpful to the comments section of the blog!

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Guest — Cassandra Carrion
Vernon, all of these resonate with me! I think my #10 would be for parents only. If you have a child that is unable to feed or e... Read More
Monday, 10 August 2015 13:24
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