The following is adapted from Reboot: Your COVID-19 Quick-Start Guide to Life, Work, and Hope.
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, I received a request to give a motivational speech for an audience. My excitement was through the roof. How long had it been since the last time I was asked to speak?
Unfortunately, reality brought me back to earth almost immediately. Speaking in front of an audience was out of the question at a time when social distancing was mandatory. What’s more, it didn’t feel like the right thing to do.
I held back my excitement and told my staff in charge, “Where could I even go right now? All airplanes are grounded, aren’t they?”
“The client says that you can make your speech online through the app called Zoom. They will still pay you the same fee as for an in-person speech.”
I was shocked. I had assumed no one would want an online speech, let alone be willing to pay my usual rate for it. Suddenly, despite the restrictions imposed by COVID, I saw a path forward for my company.
Moving My Motivational Speaking Business Online
Being offered an online speaking opportunity surprised me because, typically, the speaking industry only pays based on three elements: physical venue, audience, and speaker.
There are all kinds of video lectures available today, but their prices are comparatively cheap because people have the impression that they are easily accessible for free on YouTube. Now I was being told that the value of my online speech was the same as an in-person one!
It turned out that a Los Angeles-based, Korean-owned company made the request because the owner of the company was a big fan of mine. Originally, he wanted to invite me to Los Angeles so that I could speak to his employees, but now that traveling was banned, his company was requesting that I give an online speech. They wanted me to cheer up the employees and boost their morale, which had taken a significant dip in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
More importantly for me, that company’s request wasn’t a fluke: Once I offered this service, I received more requests from companies and local governments to make live online speeches. This was a major change at first, but my employees and I learned to adjust. Over the course of the first few online speeches, we started integrating new technologies into our daily lives. It wasn’t long before Zoom, a previously unfamiliar app, was a necessity.
Today, I am scheduling more virtual paid speeches to reach more people and generate revenue again. That is the best way I’ve found to make the one-and-a-half-hour, on-stage speeches that I had always wanted to, instead of offering fifteen-minute-long YouTube videos. It would have been a difficult challenge to take up if the value and impact of noncontact events hadn’t become as similar in-person events as they are now.
Taking Your Business to the Digital World
If you’re in a similar situation to where I was, and the coronavirus restrictions have been a major challenge for your business, here’s what I suggest: Make digital technology a part of your business strategy. In the “no-contact” era, the only way to connect us is online. The internet continuously connects us to the world as we work, meet people, and buy daily necessities. We have moved on to what some people call the “on-tact” (short for “online contact”) era, where we are all connected through online platforms. In the on-tact era, industries of all types have found new life on digital platforms:
Art exhibitions used to be something that you enjoyed in person, but now museums and galleries are adopting on-tact technology to shift to online exhibitions. For example, the Savina Museum developed a program to make exhibitions available through virtual reality (VR).
The department store industry took a direct hit by the coronavirus, but the industry is also joining in this change. In April 2020, Hyundai Department Store hosted the first “digital live fashion show.” The show was staged to have designers of the brands that were showcased in the fashion show make an appearance and explain their products and fashion trends — all online.
Food companies have changed their off-line cooking classes to online ones, and construction companies are presenting cyber model houses. Banks have also urgently created a system in which customers can receive asset management counseling via smartphone video calls.
The world is adapting to on-tact faster than we thought it would, and no matter what industry you’re in, you can likely find a home for your company online, too.
Making the Effort to Connect with the World
The spirit of on-tact is about taking the initiative to move forward to connect with the world. On-tact is the future that is already with us, no matter what industry or business you are in.
To approach the digital world proactively, you have to take the first step. Don’t be afraid to start. Those who move ahead of trends do not take their first step because they have accurate knowledge of the future. They just take their first step blindly, believing in the small dots that they could connect and understand.
If your business is struggling because of COVID, like mine was, you have to go ahead, even if you are uncertain. At a time when the world is full of uncertainties, winning depends on who starts first and how fast. A small but fast first step, taken courageously, will transform your company into one that is fit for the on-tact era. On-tact can be your answer to the post-COVID world, but only if you connect yourself.
For more advice on rebooting your life in the wake of change, you can find Reboot: Your COVID-19 Quick-Start Guide to Life, Work, and Hope on Amazon.
Today, MK Kim creates and uploads videos on her YouTube channel, Kim Mi-kyung TV; helps people grow their dreams as the dean of the online college MKYU; and runs the Growmom Foundation, dedicated to empowering single moms. Her other books include One Word That Saved Me, Mom’s Lesson on Self-esteem, Kim Mi-kyung’s Dream On, A Sister’s Poignant Advice, and A Wife with Dreams Doesn’t Grow Old.
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