Communication skills training during COVID-19: same, but different

Last year, and into 2021, of course the face-to-face communication skills training we offer has taken a hit. But stop training altogether? No way! Where there is a will there is a way. We re-worked our sessions to offer them to groups large and small, across the UK and much further afield.

Virtually there but precisely on target

Our online training sessions are short, sharp, sizzling with practical advice and tailored to be right up the street of the professionals and their communication opportunities who want our help.

Now that we have all had ample opportunities to be on the receiving end of online talks, meetings, webinars and training, we have all become even clearer on what it takes to communicate well, or what works and what does not – especially when we are remotely connected.

Remotely connected doesn’t have to be ‘not remotely interesting’

online events need good communication skills
Use sharp communication skills to plan and deliver a virtual event that will be clear, enjoyable and memorable.

We know when we are drawn in by a speaker – and remember what they say hours, days and even weeks and months later. So why are so many online meetings and events so hard to stay tuned into? Poor hosting, dull presentations, little engagement, technical failures? Sometimes all these at once – and even more. 

For virtual encounters (as for face to face ones) our top tips include:

  • Sort the point of it and what messages or inspiration you want to convey
  • Know your audience and their needs
  • Engage with your audience from the outset with Q’s, polls, chat box
  • Adjust your camera and microphone so you’ve the best look & sound
  • Present with enthusiasm and clarity and select co-speakers same values
  • Keep it concise
  • Build in breaks for audience to refresh
  • Offer more – share sources of relevant information & contact details for those who want more

One size does not fit all

The largest group we have given tips to was global gathering of agronomists, more than 50 of them in over 15 countries, who all wanted to sharpen their skills to interest and advise their clients and customers. 

The smaller groups included the farmers being given  three years of in-depth professional training through the LEAF Corteva Resilient and Ready programme; the clutch of PhD students all working on research with soils through Soils Training and Research Studentships.

The trustees of the John Forrest Award, which we think of as the ‘Rolls Royce’ in our communication skills training (three days of in-residence intense tuition) decided that the face-to-face experience is worth waiting for. The latest JFA course, which was scheduled for January 2021, is postponed until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Virtual gatherings here to stay

Are all virtual versions of gatherings bad? No. Many professionals, organisations and businesses tell us that in some instances they have extended and strengthened their reach and influence during these ‘virtual only times’.

Attendance at webinars, views of good practice examples and networking have all increased, and markedly. The topics, the timing, the amount of engagement with a scattered audience and the convenience and travel time saved has all helped to make online webinars seriously attractive. But easier to leave if your interest is not held.

Learn from those who love using communicating skills

For us at Green Shoots, building the communication skills of others is a delight. Not only can we share the tips and techniques to effectively make the most of every communications opportunity but we get to see, hear and read what our trainees do with what they learn. And love it when it goes well and the outcomes are brilliant.

In the meantime, when you feel communications are going well – or not – then take note.

Adjust what you do to do and be better, no matter what the circumstances, in communications and everything else. If we all do that, with everything, the recovery from the virus and what it has done to people, work, and livelihoods will be all the more likely.