Simone Heng is a human connections specialist and former international broadcaster for the likes of Virgin Radio Dubai, HBO Asia, and CNBC, among others. With over fifteen years of experience as a communicator on air, on stage, and one-on-one in different countries, connection has always been her life’s work. As a speaker, Simone inspires people to connect in a world thirsty for connection. She has spoken to thousands and often for Fortune 500 organizations. Her clients include Salesforce, SAP, L’Oréal, TEDx, the United Nations, and many more. Simone and her work have been featured on CNN and in Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar, among others. Simone is based and was born in Singapore but has also studied in Switzerland, was raised in Australia, and worked in the United Arab Emirates.
A short briefing of two years
After two years, Simone is back in Time to Shine. Last time we talked with her was pre-pandemic and the world was quite different. During pandemic she had to reinvent herself and to adapt, as many of us, to a new perspective and a new way of communication: virtual communication.
Briefly she told us how after organizing and putting their businesses in order, for instance she has now a full virtual studio in her home and does lots of international Keynotes there. Last year she did start with her ambitious project “Secret Pandemic“, a new book that just released.
Secret Pandemic’s insight
The main key for Simones’s book is to connect with middle-age women through stories with large societal issues about: social distancing, loneliness and disconnection, which are very common in women that grow up in Asian families.
Each chapter starts with a basic story or topic and by the end of the chapter you can find “connection challenges” so people can go to the action just after reading.
Communicating with video
Using video is quite different from face to face communication. It is an art that everyone should learn from now on. So these are Simone’s best tips for you:
- Build connection over the lens of a camera. Not only look at the camera lens, that is cold. Imagine that camera lens is the eye or the face of someone you love or someone that is your biggest fan. That will create this beautiful warmth and sincerity that other human beings perceive as authentic connection.
- Trust is the cornerstone of human connections. To build that on digital you want to have your arms in the shot, so you can gesticulate as you normally do in person. Show your hands. Crop your video to include the muscley part, your diaphragm. Don’t show only your face, being so close won’t let you transmit trust if people cannot see your hands it could seems you are hidding something.
- Give listening clues. When you are getting feedback or someone just speak to you, remember: connection is not a one-way broadcast, connection is like an interview, so smile, nod, acknowledge what is doing said to you, react. Allow people to see themselves in you because you are responding to what they are saying.
Creating human connections in a digital world.
Creating human connections will always be challenging, but doing it in a digital world doesn’t have to be more complicated.
Simone says one of the things we have learned with pandemics is that a good remote communication not always means to have the video camera on all the time, there are some better ways to connect than having the video turned off in a videoconference. She suggests something as simple as a phone call.
Another useful resource is to search for commonality, because when we perceive people to be like us, we build rapport. So when you get into your virtual communication, check out the virtual background of the person you are connecting with and look for something in common to start a good connection.
Related: Emotion Gets Connection Into Motion
“The best endorsement I ever did was the way I played on the court.” — Michael Jordan
Routine to Shine
For this exercise Simone recommends that first you need to have a counselor, this is someone that you can talk to. We’re all human beings so when you feel overwhelmed or vulnerable you can get that help.
Next when you are in those moments you don’t feel confident, don’t feel capable then it’s time to repeat this mantra: “I am deeply compassionate, I am deeply capable and everything is going to be okay”. Do this affirmation and do the breathing as much as you need. Remember you cannot connect well with other human beings if you don’t have a good connection with yourself.
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