World governments and health organisations are advising people to self-isolate or self-distance to curb the spread of COVID-19. As a result, many live training events and important business conferences are being cancelled.
Luckily for us, we live in an age in which virtual communication skills training and online communication courses are possible.
Remote working and virtual collaboration has been on the rise for a while; the fact that there already exists out there many measures to facilitate the continuation of communication and corporate L&D during this uncertain time comes as a huge relief to business leaders everywhere.
However, virtual communication is a different beast to in-person communication. At The Colin James Method® , we’re seeing many people get it wrong. We’ve been delivering ‘live face-to-face’ training for over 30-years, and translated that experience into delivering ‘live virtual’ training and online training for the last 7 years. So we know how powerful it can be.
In this article, we’re going to share with you the common downfalls of digital communication and how you can upskill your people to ensure their virtual communication is as effective as it is in person.
“Highly recommended. The content and facilitation was extremely informative and there was genuine interest in ensuring we were learning.” – Tony Maroun, Broker Manager, ANZ
The importance of online communication skills training during a pandemic
Virtual communication is not the same as communication in person. There are different challenges, and additional skills are required in order for it to be effective. It’s unnatural for communication to take place with the barrier of distance and technology between communicators (more on this below). However, needs must in the current climate.
The Coronavirus pandemic means that sales teams are currently being restricted from seeing their clients; they’re needing to pitch virtually, but they’re not equipped with the skills to do so effectively.
Business leaders are currently unable to travel for strategic meetings. Mission-critical decisions are having to be made in virtual meetings, which can be notoriously awkward and frustrating when not done properly.
Teams are being stopped from physically gathering for scheduled training, causing businesses delays, lost revenue and lack of productivity. Whether it’s being postponed or cancelled, the knock-on effects of this can be severe.
At The Colin James Method® , we’re seeing leaders and facilitators who have presence and confidence in a physically ‘live’ environment have the impact of a damp squib in a virtual one. They’re treating the virtual environment like a physical environment, with the result being that they have disengaged, bored participants and important outcomes are not being achieved.
These two environments are not the same and shouldn’t be treated as such. Now let’s look at why.
3 critical focal points of CJM virtual presentation skills training
Because communication is virtual and not in person, there are a few things that need to be approached slightly differently. These things are just as important in live, in-person communication, but more challenging to achieve online and require a different skillset to do so. These are the 3 critical points that good virtual communication skills training covers.
People’s attention online is notoriously fickle, even worse than in person. It’s so easy to get distracted by phones, laptops and other factors (particularly if working from home, for example), so learning how to hold engagement in a virtual environment is a core skill.
Virtual communication tip: With virtual communication, it’s really important to set off on the right foot. That means you’ve got to ‘nail the opening’; use a good fact or stat to grab attention, or opening with a story is a great way to get engagement from the get-go.
Virtual communication brings with it the challenges of technology, time delays, no visual cues etc. It can make interaction awkward and clumsy. Good virtual communication skills training teaches techniques for managing this more effectively.
Virtual communication tip: Use a moderator to call on people one by one to interact. Good moderators can also inject energy into discussions and facilitate introductions at the beginning. For participants, it’s good practice to state your name when you speak.
The feedback loop can be difficult to achieve in a virtual environment. However, it is possible. Participants are able to practice their training if groups are kept small. Small groups spread across the country can also practice with each other if shown how to do so. People working on their own need a slightly different feedback set up, but all of these things (and more) can be taught.
Virtual communication tip: Practice in advance. This ensures you can iron out any niggles during your test run. The use of break-out rooms in virtual training is also really effective for gathering insights in small groups.
“Pivotal in helping bring everything we have learnt and developed in our leadership career with new tools and methods, to make it simple and easy to be a stronger leader in a VUCA world.” – Theresa Cowen, Head of Direct Performance, CUA
Exactly what kind of virtual communication skills training can be delivered?
At Colin James Method®, any of the programs we deliver live can also be offered virtually through:
- Virtual coaching via live webinars and masterclasses (with recordings available)
- Virtual keynotes
- Virtual business meetings (we can facilitate virtual meetings for leadership and business teams needing support
“The Colin James Method delivers world-class content in a very nimble, cost-effective way. The consulting team are informed business professionals who have an impressive global perspective and the ability to adapt to the specific needs of your audience or business. Each person that I have interacted with has been clearly committed to the success of our project.” – Organisational Development Manager, Mining Industry
We have deep, global experience in training virtually and can ensure your teams maintain growth, performance and engagement. Contact us today to find out how we can tailor our programs to the current virtual needs of your organisation and ensure your teams are best prepared for these challenging times.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.