(Or, How I set up my space for virtual presentations)

Part DJ, Part Tech God, Complete Dork.

During one of my first webinars — before Covid and virtual presenting became our norm — I looked past the camera at my husband, John. He was my technical support for this rare online session, and he took it quite seriously.

Fast forward to today, and I now teach several online classes a week. With this shift, I’ve had to change my set-up. I can’t have constant in-room tech support. My solution has been to engineer the heck out of my space to become my own tech support. Today I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you my set-up…

When I started my business eight years ago, my greatest concerns were money, customers, and my intelligence. What I never considered, but what has caused me to contemplate abandoning my business more than any other factor, is the loneliness. Working for yourself, by yourself, and from your own home is isolating. And perhaps that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but there are times I would cry from the loneliness of it all. Big gulping ugly cries, because — on the bright side — there was no one around to see!

With COVID-19 sweeping the world, and so many ordered…

By Christine Haas, Christine Haas Consulting, LLC

At his 2008 Stanford commencement address, Steve Jobs said “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your inner voice.”

We often follow the thinking of others when it comes to structuring our communication, replicating what we’ve seen others do because it feels safe to maintain the status quo, and we don’t know a better way to approach the situation. Unfortunately, the status quo in technical communication often means a firehose of information and details.

By Christine Haas, Christine Haas Counsulting, LLC

When my hotel room phone rang at 9:30 pm and woke me from a deep sleep, I assumed it was a wrong number. I was traveling for work in Denmark, and I knew no one in the area. The woman at the front desk explained that “Kevin” was in the lobby to see me.

It took me a moment to place the name, but then I remembered he’d been a participant in my presentation skills class that day. The group of tech professionals had been the best kind of class, full of bright…

The first time I said goodbye to my Aunt Honey for the last time, a ring of people stood around her hospital bed, watching her watch them. Most of them were our family who’d traveled from various distances to see her, spurred by the telephone chain that had reported she had hours to live. Some were hospital workers, ducking in to check her vitals. One was her three-year old grandson. He’d arrived moments before to some fanfare by our family, and his golden curls and sweet sunshine smile had delayed the task I was dreading.

You’d think I’d have prepared…

Alex Honnold was recently in the news for being the first climber to ever free solo Yosemite’s El Capitan. If you’re not familiar with free soloing, it’s climbing without ropes. Alex had a bag of chalk, sticky soled shoes, and his climbing prowess to keep him on the rock.

Photograph by Jimmy Chin, National Geographic

I coached Alex last year on a presentation he was giving, but speaking in public is far from the scariest part of his job.

I am whim to my phone’s every command. A text comes in, I have to check it. My email hasn’t been examined in one-minute? I’m on it. Sitting on a bus watching the world go by may be enjoyable, but I can’t do it. My phone demands someone (me) stare at the Internet, social media, or news on its glowing screen.

My phone is a tiny dictator, ruling my life. Because of the constant and rapid pace of my phone’s demands, I spend less time in self-reflection, less time engaging with the world, and less effort speaking to those around…

I started to suspect my phone’s intentions late last year, but ignored the mounting evidence. How could a device that kept me connected me to my loved ones, well-informed of my work and social schedule, and captured my life’s memories be out to ruin me? It was inconceivable, especially given the more than 10-year relationship we’d fostered, albeit across different devices and platforms.

Yet…

The constant “ding” of text messages as they arrived into my phone started to feel like an unruly dog at the end of a leash, dragging my attention in frantic circles without warning or regard. The…

I never felt like a blissfully happy bride.

With the exception of the days immediately following our engagement when our contentment was protected by the folds of Point Arena, California — with spotty cell phone service and a gray-green sea that blended into miles of jagged cliffs — there were few moments of joy. …

John created the playlist for our upcoming wedding, and despite the complete and utter trust I have in his musical choices [read: not complete or utter], I thought it best that I give a listen to some of his selections. Besides too much George Michael, and a song with lyrics that would make your mother blush, he did a great job. Especially when I came across a version of “You Are My Sunshine,” by Johnny Cash, which I hadn’t heard before.

Tears came to my eyes as I listened to the song. “This is…lovely,” I thought, lost for the right…

Christine Haas

Communication professional who (over)shares on life events and lessons learned. www.christinehaasconsulting.com

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