The Virtual Communicator



These past few months have introduced new expectations for communication. Companies have shifted entire workforces to conference calls and video chats. And for everyone from front-line managers to senior leaders, that means shifting from a room full of listeners to a screen full of images.  It means more independence for the viewers and more coordination for the presenters.  And it’s just not a format that most people have mastered.

Most teams leverage a virtual format occasionally, so remote working wasn’t an entirely new concept. But the reality is most people have been leaning into their skills with in-person communication and assuming that they transferred OK for remote communication.  Managers are beginning to realize that the concepts that work for managing a team and communicating effectively are being tested.  Some concepts transfer OK; others don’t at all.  So, leaders are left to modify their skills without a lot of direction.

That’s why SW&A is helping managers and teams rethink their virtual image by focusing on three elements of virtual communication:  Preparation, Participation and Presence.

TRAINING OVERVIEW: Through a custom engagement with SW&A, we’ll evaluate the challenges you’re facing and tailor a program to your virtual situations and the size and experience of your team(s).

PREPARATION: A prepared communicator sends an agenda in advance. It’s a best practice for all meetings; it’s a necessity for the virtual communicator. When listeners aren’t prepared to participate, the virtual meeting falls flat. There are new rules of engagement, and few teams are consistent about the rules. Calls are dropped, listeners are lost, and in many cases, the communicator just keeps talking. A virtual meeting requires an overview of ground rules.

PARTICIPATION: A virtual viewer doesn’t become a listener until they take an interest in a topic. We introduce techniques for getting listeners involved and keeping them involved throughout a meeting. It takes a clear and focused storyline as well as intentional points of facilitation.  It’s harder to manage listeners virtually, and technology distorts the view by highlighting the talkers. A good communicator needs to manage interaction with influencers and the lack of interaction from the quiet observers. Our simple tool helps a communicator lead a conversation and track participation.

PRESENCE: Style skills and impressions translate to the virtual setting. We highlight the foundational skills of using the body and the voice, and we emphasize the skills to connect with a less engaged audience. Listeners connect and disconnect easily in a virtual setting, so a communicator has to engage listeners quickly and keep their focus throughout the conversation.  It’s more distant in some ways, and more intimate in others. And it means leveraging the tools you know to gain confidence in the results you should expect.

Over a three-hour format, we introduce the concepts of Presence, Preparation and Participation. Using group exercises and discussion, we set the guidelines for best practices and allow participants to experience how the concepts impact a virtual format.


Interested in learning more about this program for you or your team?
Schedule a call with an SW&A Instructor today!