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Austin Iuliano: How To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space

Interview With David Liu

The Best Form of Motivation for Your Team is Through Personal Growth

As an executive, you can’t change the environment of your employees’ homes, but you are in charge of motivating them. Helping your employees overcome their limitations and grow as a person is the best motivation you can give them.

“The one common denominator of all successful people is their hunger to push through their fears.” -Tony Robbins

Bringing in virtual speakers to bring in fresh energy, creativity, new ideas, and to teach them new skills like speaking on camera can be the motivation they need to push past their limitations and become a top achiever for your company.

Motivation is like bathing. It’s recommended you do it daily. Zig Ziggler.

We are living in a new world in which offices are becoming obsolete. How can teams effectively communicate if they are never together? Zoom and Slack are excellent tools, but they don’t replicate all the advantages of being together. What strategies, tools and techniques work to be a highly effective communicator, even if you are not in the same space?

In this interview series, we are interviewing business leaders who share the strategies, tools and techniques they use to effectively and efficiently communicate with their team who may be spread out across the world. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Austin Iuliano.

Austin Iuliano is a revolutionary marketing expert who went from homeless to being seen on Forbes, Business Insider, Influencive, and Social Media Today for his unique social media expertise.

Austin helps public figures build their personal brands using his unique methodology of personal branding and social media marketing disruption.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started live-streaming the day Meerkat & Periscope launched at SXSW in 2015. Quickly my audience grew to a point where I was regularly live streaming to 30,000 concurrent viewers an extended audience of over 1 million.

I had to learn what it takes to communicate effectively to an audience that was through a screen. Mastering capturing attention, communicating my charismatic personality, and delivering powerful messages that inspired my audience long before this pandemic hit.

I then took my communication skills to the next level, learning how to master my communication on stage working with Toastmasters international and becoming a Distinguished Toastmasters. I’m also on the Board of Directors for Tedx Culver City.

Through all of this I’ve been working with executive teams of fortune 100’s through virtual speaking training in my Charisma on Demand: How to Master Your On-Camera Speaking Skills Workshop.

Just the other day I was teaching a room of 30 YPO members how to more effectively motivate their team even though their companies are fully digital now.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of my responsibilities on the executive board of Tedx Culver City is helping to find and evaluate potential speakers. Per every Tedx event, we get 100s of submissions for only 4 speaking opportunities. The competition is fierce and one major advantage of potential Tedx speakers is their ability to show us what the speech will be about through a video.

Over the many years, I’ve found that over 80% of these amazing speakers who’ve overcome their fear of speaking on stage are still petrified of being on camera. Public speaking may be the #1 fear in the world but speaking on camera is most definitely the #2 fear.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“There is no failure in life, there is only feedback. “ — Thomas Edison

This realization was the defining shift in my life that helped me go from homeless sleeping out of my car in NYC to the man I am today. In that single moment, I had a mental and emotional revolution that fundamentally changed how I operated every day. I decided to change every decision I make moving forward. If I would normally turn left, I’d make a right.

By changing the decisions and actions I take every day, I would eventually and without fail have a completely different life.

This led me down a journey of live streaming, collaborating with social medias such as Periscope, Snapchat, Meerkat, and more. Eventually leading me to today.

Look at your own greatest failures as feedback, learn from them and take a step forward. Your life will radically change.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Of course, many people helped me along in my journey but the person who has consistently helped me the most is my mentor. My mentor is who I wish to be in 10 years.

I do this little mental exercise whenever I face a really tough decision. I project myself forward 10 years and see the life I want to live. I see who I am and I sit down over a cup of coffee with myself and have a conversation. I ask myself what decision would I regret more.

From there I use something called the immersion technique to overcome future challenges. Knowing that I can’t predict the future, I try to imagine all the ways a decision can go wrong. Once I create a list, I then think about what are 3 or 4 ways to eliminate some of that risk.

This helps me move forward with a game plan to eliminate risk and move forward without regret.

That said, I of course pull on my list of contacts whenever possible and gain insight from others, but I’ve found trusting my inner guidance is the most important mentor to have in my life.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. Many teams have started working remotely. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a team physically together?

Having a team in person has tons of fantastic benefits. It is easier to communicate ideas, the human connection is necessary to have strong bonding of a team. We are naturally better at picking up the energy of a situation in person. We’ve all walked into a room and just felt something off or that feeling when someone is staring at the back of your head.

Communication is also more in-depth in person. We can use our whole body to express an idea, compared to a zoom call where all the focus is on your face.

On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a team is not in the same space?

The flip side of this is that 93% of communication is non-verbal with 55% of that being body language. If we can not see the body language of those speaking to us our communication skills are extremely hampered. This means we have to overcompensate in other areas of communication.

Additionally keeping the troops motivated can be extremely hard. Many employees aren’t used to working at home and can easily become demotivated. This is where the leadership team has an opportunity to excel either by being motivational and inspiring the troops or by bringing in new energy, and new ideas through bringing in a virtual keynote speaker like myself.

For many of my clients, the biggest challenge of having a dispersed team is the lack of human connection. We can use tools like zoom to see each other’s faces but there is a little something that seems to be missing.

What most people don’t realize is that thing we are missing, that human connection, can be alleviated to a large degree by being charismatic on camera. That human connection is our natural ability to project and read the energy of the person next to us.

This is why learning how to communicate with charisma on camera is so important. It helps bring that human connection to the zoom meetings.

Of course, not completely, you can’t hug or high-five someone through a computer but you can substantially improve your team’s performance by bringing more energy to the conversation.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space ? (Please share a story or example for each.)

(how to communicate and collaborate with a remote team effectively)

The 5 things you need to know to communicate with your team effectively even if you are rarely in the same physical space.

  1. Project 20% More Energy Past the Camera

I call this The 20% Rule.

There is an old adage that says the camera adds 10 lbs, it’s also well known that the camera also removes about 20% of the energy you are projecting. That means when you see someone super charismatic on camera they are upping their personality by an extra 20% or more.

An easy way to do this is to imagine your best friend is 6–10 feet past the camera and try talking to them. You will naturally increase your energy output and projection to compensate for your friend being a bit farther away. If you don’t believe me, grab your phone record yourself normally then do another one where you are talking to your friend 6 feet away.

2. Be Mindful of Your Micro Expressions

During a zoom call where your head is the only part of your body on the screen. The only thing we get to see is the micro-expressions and subtle nuances the face makes when we are speaking. The far majority of people make some really interesting faces when they are thinking. A lot of people when they are thinking look angry. This could easily make your team think you are angry and subtle communicate to them this energy which may not be an accurate emotion to communicate.

Of the 93% of nonverbal communication 55% is body language which most people don’t get to see in a zoom call. That means you have to overcompensate your communication in your tone of voice and what you say to come

3. Start With the End of the Meeting First, Then Create How to Get There.

One major key I teach is building communication channels in reverse. In Toastmasters and TED, we teach that every speech has one single concept or idea that you share this is called a through-line. Next, there should only be about 3 points otherwise humans can’t keep all of it in their heads.

Your meetings should be like a speech. What is the single concept that needs to be communicated? From there what are the 3 major points that illustrate this idea? Finally, who are you speaking to and MUST know? Finally, can this all be sent in an email? If so, skip the meeting and send an email.

If you start with the end of the meeting first, you can cut down meeting lengths and be more effective in your communication.

4. Everyone Contributes to the Energy of the Meeting

A rising tide lifts all boats

Imagine every one of your team members in a meeting as a boat. If the energy of the room is high, everyone is engaged and excited then the meeting is more productive. On the other hand, if you have boring speakers it brings the whole group down.

Everyone in an organization from the executive team to the sales team to the assistant can benefit from some on-camera training.

When we are communicating an idea in person we are taking in thousands of little inputs. Typically when we are speaking in person we are giving and receiving energy from each other. We are reading the other people smiling and nodding their heads, the little affirmations while your talking. Their subtle communication is giving us energy back, letting us know that we are on the same page and can keep going.

When we are on a zoom call and the other people are checked out, checking their phone, writing emails, etc. the speaker can tell. This means whoever is speaking has to hold more energy and they don’t get the active feedback. Not only does this make it harder to communicate but will demotivate the group.

Learning how to actively give energy back to the speaker without interrupting them can help raise the tide and make meetings more effective and efficient.

5. The Best Form of Motivation for Your Team is Through Personal Growth

As an executive, you can’t change the environment of your employees’ homes, but you are in charge of motivating them. Helping your employees overcome their limitations and grow as a person is the best motivation you can give them.

“The one common denominator of all successful people is their hunger to push through their fears.” -Tony Robbins

Bringing in virtual speakers to bring in fresh energy, creativity, new ideas, and to teach them new skills like speaking on camera can be the motivation they need to push past their limitations and become a top achiever for your company.

Motivation is like bathing. It’s recommended you do it daily. Zig Ziggler.

Has your company experienced communication challenges with your workforce working from home during the pandemic? For example, does your company allow employees to use their own cell phones or do they use the company’s phone lines for work? Can you share any other issues that came up?

Before this pandemic, I was already running a virtual company. Traveling around speaking at conferences and at fortune 100s meant having a single office space wasn’t feasible. Because of my experience working with a small dedicated team of remote workers, I’ve been an advocate for a remote workforce for a very long time.

Tools for communication and collaboration like Google Suit’s means that the far majority of the white-collar workforce can be remote.

The key to utilizing these tools is communicating clearly, concisely, and leveraging test projects. For example, say I need to hire someone on Upwork to help me.

After I make a job offer, I’ll hire 3 people to do a sample of the work. Of course, paying all these people. In the end, I get to see how fast they work, how their communication was, how they handled problems, and the quality of the work.

I tested a new video editor to handle the video I made for this interview.

Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help teams coordinate and communicate with each other. In your personal experiences which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?

The most obvious tool is of course Zoom and this is to be expected. The company went from $100 a share to $500 a share because of this pandemic.

But moving past the obvious tool, the one that has helped me and my company the most is my training. As leaders, our main job is to communicate and sell an idea to our stakeholders. The best salespeople can communicate their passion and it’s contagious. No pun intended.

If you could design the perfect communication feature or system to help your business, what would it be?

The tools are unimportant. What is most important is knowing how to communicate with charisma and energy that inspires and motivates the people that work with you.

If I had to design a communication tool it would be something in the AR/VR space. A full-body avatar that allows us to see all micro-expressions and body language which also doesn’t trigger the uncanny valley. If I could design that tool I’d be richer than Bezos.

My particular expertise and interest is in Unified Communications. Has the pandemic changed the need or appeal for unified communications technology requirements? Can you explain?

Communication will always be the main ingredient in great collaboration.

For anyone not well versed in Unified Communication, let me give a simple explanation. Unified communication is a fancy way of saying communication and collaboration tools that we all use today. There is an understanding that no matter where we are in the world, we should all have access to the tools and resources we need to get the job done. An example is being able to access our email from our phones or jump into Google drive and collaborate with our team in real-time.

With that basic understanding, the pandemic has showcased the need for unified communication technologies. As we move through this pandemic, unified communication tools allow companies to be more nimble. Of course, there is a downside to Unified communication, and this is the always-on mentality. Having your email on your phone means that many people expect you to respond to an email at 8 pm.

For your sanity, make it a habit of not checking your email after a certain point in time during the day. Give yourself and your family the gift of real-world connection.

Turn off your phone, put it down, and have a conversation. I think this pandemic has shown us the value of those closest to us and they may not be around forever.

The technology is rapidly evolving and new tools like VR, AR, and Mixed Reality are being developed to help bring remote teams together in a shared virtual space. Is there any technology coming down the pipeline that excites you?

AR/VR is super interesting to me. I’m ready for a life of Ready Player One!

Imagine the first astronauts on Mars having a team of experts at NASA being able to virtually stream into their base helping them fix a problem. While this sounds fantastical, just a few years ago we never expect to land on Mars or the moon.

Technology is fascinating and can help solve so many problems.

Is there a part of this future vision that concerns you? Can you explain?

We are seeing the destruction of our rights right before our eyes. Facebook is a prime example of what happens when our data is given to someone who cares more about profits than anything else.

Being in the social media space and an expert at Facebook advertising, I’ve known for about 10 years what was going on behind the scenes. Our government moves too slowly to compensate for the rise of technology and innovation. Our oldest congressperson was born in 1919 and is 102 years old.

As a general rule, someone 102 years old doesn’t understand what is happening in this fast-paced world.

But I’ll digress and move off of this topic.

So far we have discussed communication within a team. How has the pandemic changed the way you interact and engage your customers? How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, messaging apps, phone, or video calls?

My background in social media marketing has taught me a unique methodology to break through the noise pre-pandemic. Let me illustrate a typical social media interaction and show you an easy way to completely revolutionize your social media marketing lead generation.

You sign onto Linkedin and notice someone requested to connect with you with a stock message of “we have mutual connections let’s connect”

You hit connect and they send you that automated message wall of text eventually getting to the “sign up to chat, download my ebook, etc.”

It’s a cold pitch that treats you as a number.

Ugh… I hate it.

Now imagine a new situation, you hit connect and instead of a wall of text you see a little 60-second audio message. You hit play and it’s the other person saying hello, using your name, and expressing genuine interest in your company because they looked at your profile.

Of course, they put a little plugin for themselves but it is a soft touch.

They end with a question to continue the conversation.

How does that make you feel?

My clients and I have had such amazing responses to a human first social media approach. Not looking at contacting thousands of people a day in a shotgun approach but a targeted approach with a genuine connection.

I guarantee it wins out every single time.

In my experience, one of the trickiest parts of working with a remote team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. Can you give a few suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote team member?

In Toastmasters we teach a principle to deliver feedback. I can tell you that delivering feedback in a negative way can be detrimental and make the person not step up again to try their best.

Here is the most effective way to give feedback.

Give a compliment, sandwich constructive criticism inside that is non-judgmental or attacking and end with more compliments.

I’ve found in my experience that positive reinforcement works 10–100x better than critical attacks.

Can you give any specific ideas about how to create a sense of camaraderie and team cohesion when you are not physically together?

The best way to create a sense of camaraderie and team cohesion is through group exercises. A team will feel more cohesion when they have to overcome challenges and work together to achieve an objective.

One inexpensive and fun way you can help your team achieve a deep level of teamwork is by having the team play dungeons and dragons together. It sounds strange I know, but the experiences and memories of playing the game create lasting real-world growth, as many in the D&D community can tell you.

Even though you are playing make-believe, the experiences become very visceral and help you develop, gaining confidence, and working together as a stronger team.

Not to mention it’s freaking fun! I’ve run D&D games for some of my client’s teams.

Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

If I can inspire a movement, it would be a movement where everyone pushes themselves to be their fullest expression. I honestly don’t believe anyone is boring, we are all super complex individuals with different goals, aspirations, fears, and eccentricities. When you fully embrace who you are and aren’t afraid to show it, you create a following of interesting like-minded individuals. This is one of the most rewarding experiences and thanks to the internet we can all find our tribe of weirdos.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The easiest way to follow me is through my website but I’ve made it very easy to find me online. Pick your favorite social media and type is @Austiniuliano and that will be me.

Right now I’ve launched a new Youtube channel teaching you how to be more confident and charismatic on camera while building your personal brand. Come over there and subscribe, drop a comment and say hello.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.



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