Knowmium, a Hong Kong-based consultancy that facilitates learning and development, has grown a business by understanding how to have conversations with global, distributed teams. Joshua Davies, founder and Lead Conversation Architect of Knowmium, believes that technology can support more interactive and inclusive conversations. For his team, mmhmm plays a key role in turning video calls into immersive experiences.
“Our goal is always to create physical places in digital spaces,” said Davies. “With mmhmm we're actually able to make conversations visible in the background, to take what is internal and make it external.”
“With mmhmm we're actually able to make conversations visible in the background, to take what is internal and make it external.”
Founder and Lead Conversation Architect, Knowmium
In his book, Radically Remote: A field guide to virtual engagement, Davies recommends mmhmm to clients as a tool to easily manage visuals without relegating yourself to what he calls the “postage stamp” corner. By staying on screen with his slides and screen shares, participants can stay present and engaged, no matter where they are joining from.
Using mmhmm to manage branded slides, Otter.ai transcription, Miro white boards, and backgrounds that bring him full-screen, Davies runs virtual workshops that allow participants to actually see their conversation as it happens. He glides through his visuals so seamlessly that the experience of talking to him on a call can feel like a well-paced, guided tour through the land of his ideas.
His mastery of mmhmm video shows how much better live discussions can be when we make them more visual. “It's like augmented reality conversation where things are popping up around me, like it's my own mini Bloomberg studio,” Davies said.
Davies has called himself a believer in “digital minimalism,” but he embraces using the right kind of technology to not just mimic but improve on real-life conversations. “You want the technology to be there, but to disappear into the background,” said Davies. “When we're talking about digital minimalism, it's about how we can shape spaces where we pour ourselves and our ideas into our tools in a way that actually frees them rather than constraining you.”
Davies believes that face-to-face interactions are valuable, but he also believes that virtual workshops are powerful for fostering inclusivity. His multimedia experiences encourage participation over observation, which is particularly valuable in cross-cultural contexts where different groups may be more or less comfortable with taking up space. With the help of mmhmm and his tech stack, Davies can give those quieter people a sense of psychological safety so they feel empowered to contribute, even when their managers are in the room.
“If done well, from a perspective of making everyone feel safe to share, to give themselves permission to fail or to not be perfect, virtual can potentially even nudge out face-to-face,” Davies said.
Davies measures mmhmm’s success by gauging client reactions and enthusiasm for his presentations. “mmhmm has such a wow impact. People are always interested, and so no matter what the topic is, even if it's not remotely about mmhmm, people are always like, ‘OK, now, Joshua, I do have one question. How did you do that?’”