Deepening Virtual Communication Skills  

Effective and productive virtual communication skills are no longer optional. Our virtual learning opportunities provide participants with a highly interactive workshop experience where critical areas of virtual communication are honed and developed, such as collaboration and daily communication. Team members often rely on emails, chats, and video conferences to keep in touch. How effectively they communicate across various virtual tools makes a big difference to the results that individuals’ teams and organizations can make.

We can customize our group programs and workshops in any helpful way, such as duration and content. Individual coaching sessions are also available for any of the training modules below. The 1:1 format allows for rapid targeted progress.

Our clients tell us that our informative, practical, customized, and interactive training programs provide t with a benchmark for the most current best practices in virtual communication. With over 56 years of experience, we understand what organizations need for communication successes. Participants will leave with increased confidence in their ability to communicate effectively in a virtual environment.

Lessons Learned In Moving Coaching and Training Online

In March 2020, the world went virtual. While Virtual Learning and Development were not new concepts, the dynamics of what works and what doesn't work began to evolve. Throughout the remainder of 2020, the Speech Improvement Company worked together to translate and unveil newly designed virtual training programs.

Through our research, study, deliberation, and feedback from working with thousands of clients in 2020, our team of highly educated and trained speech coaches developed a new suite of offerings focused on essential Virtual Communication Skills, delivered in virtual settings for groups or individuals.

These training adaptations are vital because research shows that learning and development may become even more strategically important to organizations after the pandemic. A May survey by LinkedIn Learning found that 74 percent of global respondents believe building new skills is the most critical part of rebuilding organizations for the post-COVID-19 world. Some 66 percent of those respondents said their learning function has emerged as a more strategic part of their organizations during the pandemic.

The three lessons below have formed the foundation of our newly designed communication offerings into the most effective, engaging, and productive use of online executive learning and development. 

  • Break up learning content. 

Learning retention and application often improves when content is broken up into parts and spread over time. The goal should be for participants to spend a few hours a week for multiple weeks on content. The idea is to pull together different strategies, breakout activities, and use other virtual modalities to effectively and interactively deliver content. 

The most potent virtual learning experiences are those that springboard participants back into their real-world work. Our coaches are diligent in helping clients understand a visible connection back to the work and a pathway to apply this knowledge towards tangible behavior change.  Here's what we know: We don't need more content; we need context. Also, we understand that employees sitting for extended lengths of time affects the ability to focus and develop skills. As a result, we've broken our one and two-day workshops into a series, 90 minutes or up to 3-hour segments. This virtual series format offers deeper learning and stronger bonding between cohort members.  

  • Group sizes for training should be limited to 12 or less.   

While technology can accommodate the masses, as you move into groups larger than 12, the open discussion becomes difficult, and the coach's ability to read faces on the screen is diminished. Even with breakout groups, we've found the quality of the experience significantly decreases if there are too many groups. While this may be true even before virtual, this more intimate group size is wildly exaggerated in a virtual setting. The coaches will ask you to Stand and Deliver, Interact, Engage, Practice, Give Peer Feedback, Receive Personalized Coach Feedback, and Receive Large Group Feedback. We do this best in small groups.  

Our smaller virtual group training also provides Authentic Connection.  The best virtual training coaches are intentional about creating space within the online learning environment to foster a real connection between participants and facilitators. A Human-centered design is essential to us, and we use technology to our advantage to "reach through the screen" more efficiently. We always make time before and after modules to answer questions and offer additional resources.  

  • Customize a Practical Application.

No gimmicks. Our clients demand deliberate training design. For a virtual program to succeed, it needs to be rooted in experience. As the oldest coaching firm in the nation, we've successfully mastered how to translate the anatomy of a learning experience into an online learning space. Everything – from the amount of text we share on-screen to the length and timing of each module of the content – is informed by our research on optimal learning and information retention.

With high screen fatigue rates, some training organizations have been impulsively jumping into gimmicks like pointless surveys and ice breaker games to keep meetings interactive. We've found surveys can be an interactive tool but will neither compensate for a poor organization nor a predictable content.

Participants in online coaching and training are often practicing new behaviors in the same environment where they will be implementing them, such as a learning how to manage teams remotely, while using Zoom to conduct the training. With the practice field adjacent to the playing field, executives can easily envision how these new behaviors will manifest in their daily work, quickly embed reminders, access resources, and create other prompts to keep new learnings top-of-mind. And of course, our coaches remain longtime trusted advisors to all our clients for decades, and that relationship is of great value to us. 

Strengthening Virtual Presentation Skills

Our most popular program is our 12-hour Strengthening Virtual Presentation Skills program. This program is customized to our client's needs, challenges, and unique culture. Our white-glove approach to this training program is what sets us apart from other coaching firms. We customize all content around your organization and attendees, and you choose the format that works best, from eight 90-minutes sessions to four 3-hour sessions. Our administrative team will handle all logistics, zoom links, commutation, virtual handouts, and reminders. All we ask of our clients is to show up.

This program is a combination of training, teaching, coaching, and practice. The coach working with the group will use a mixture of teaching/presenting methods to ensure maximum learning, including demonstration, discussion, small and full group exercises, constant feedback, coaching, and virtual support materials. We offer this program through Zoom and can also provide the program on your organization’s preferred video platform, such as Teams, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Google Hangouts, or Slack.

Content Overview:

Presenting in a clear, comfortable, and concise manner is a critical skill for any organization’s members. Presenting ideas to people in the same room or across the globe should be done with impact and clarity. Date-heavy, scientific, or technical information can make it difficult at times to remain engaging. Getting in the weeds, nerves, or a lack of preparation can make it hard to be influential or persuasive. This 12-hour training program will teach participants best practices in human communication and presentation and allow for practice and asking questions to master their presentation and communication skills. Participants will also learn how to present with confidence and clarity in any setting.

Topics Covered:

Participants will be invited to bring their unique concerns to each session. Also, we may cover the following: • Speaking clearly
• Connecting with listeners
• Being persuasive
• Building relationships in a cross-cultural setting
• Controlling nervousness
• Non-verbal communication
• Presenting in various environments (Virtual vs. face to face)
• Working with visual aids such as PowerPoint
• Handling interruptions
• Being concise
• Engaging listeners
• Balancing human and business at meetings

Additional Virtual Communication Programs

The Seven Principles of Effective Virtual Meetings

By identifying and applying our seven core principles of effective virtual meetings, both employees and leaders can maintain a high level of connection, inclusivity, and accountability. These seven principles provide a roadmap for all virtual meetings, from three to 300 people, which is essential when distraction is just a click away.

Facilitating Virtual Meetings

Employees' time and attention are scarce, but we keep demanding more of it. In this module, we understand the latest tools for useful and engaging virtual meetings. Our proven SHARE model explains how to facilitate virtual meetings by harmonizing, eliciting, and structuring meetings. From small meetings to company-wide check-ins, learn how to facilitate productive meetings for participants who are two blocks or two continents away. 

Creating a Collaborative Virtual Meeting Agenda

Setting clear guidelines for how, when, and why the team operates helps form cohesion. Remote meetings, and in particular audio-only conference calls, should be more than just providing
information or updates. This training offers specific agenda items for maximum productivity and collaboration, which increases all virtual teams’ collaboration quality. 

Five Qualities of Effective Virtual Communication

Company leaders often share three particular concerns about employees working remotely: mental well-being, continued innovation, and the rapid transfer of knowledge. When you analyze the most productive virtual collaborations, these five qualities always emerge as essential landmarks to aim. These five distinct areas will provide a foundation for all virtual communication and encourage individual contribution and the ability to replicate in-person meeting rooms and whiteboards.

Structuring Your Message for Virtual Consumption

Is your message clear and easy to follow? Do you have a meaningful structure? A well-structured presentation or 5-minute internal update can have a huge impact when done well. A strong and organized framework keeps listeners engaged, even if the speaker is nervous or the listener is distracted. Our executive communication coaches will teach you how to organize your message for your listeners to follow easily. Participants will be able to practice through screen share, practice content, and receive immediate feedback. 

Conveying an Executive Virtual Presence

Framing, Lighting, and Sound are often not considered but make a lasting impact on video quality. How you look, how you sound, and how you deliver information is now a required virtual skill. From proper framing to effective lighting, adding an executive polish to your virtual presence will go a long way to add credibility to your reputation and enhance persuasion.

PowerPoint Presentations for Zoom

Presentations are greatly enhanced when both the speaker and visuals are top-notch. The moment Share Screen is enabled, learn best practices for influence and impact, with slides and new creative media. Our emphasis is on the importance of the presenter controlling the meeting flow and not taking a back seat to the slide presentation. Topics include deciding what visuals are most effective for your listeners, interacting with your visuals in a virtual meeting, and best transitioning practices. This program requires an on-camera practice and immediate feedback.

Making and Maintaining Connections Using Virtual Networking

Partners, clients, prospects, and customers require a time commitment and long-term maintenance, especially when working virtually. Also, a robust professional network is essential for staying in touch with investors, strategic partners, clients, and customers. How do you conduct networking with a virtual approach in a way that produces connections that are meaningful, useful, mutually beneficial, and that stick? This module will answer the question and help with tips and techniques to leverage video communication platforms to actively build, nurture, and maintain a broad network, not just for today but for the future.

Perfecting an Asynchronous Virtual Communication Model

Virtual work requires a careful ratio of two communication types that's predominantly asynchronous (does not require real-time interaction) with opportunities for synchronous (real-time interaction). When the two work in combination, organizations create a high-output distributed team that consistently functions with fluidity. Learn how to shift from synchronous to asynchronous communication for meetings, 1:1’s, updates, projects, and team collaboration effectively.

V.L.E.P. (Virtual Leader Effectiveness Program)

The V.L.E.P. (Virtual Leader Effectiveness Program) provides a foundation of tools and techniques for both in-person and virtual communication around developing your leadership and management communication skills. New Managers, Experienced Managers, Directors, Supervisors, and Team Leaders need efficient skills for effective virtual communication and leadership. Build your own customized program from the modules below, ranging from 60 minutes to 12 hours in length.
Facilitating Virtual Collaboration

Whether managers meet with three or 300 people, virtual collaboration must be executed to emphasize structure, participation, and eliciting feedback. Learn to become an effective virtual facilitator who engages participants, creates a collaborative environment, and successfully leads the group to productive next steps.  

Making Remote Global Teams Work

The global team has a unique set of challenges: maintaining a sense of connection, the perception of power and ranking, different cultures, various age demographics, generational attitudes, time zones, technology breakdowns, providing peer feedback on routine interactions, lack of watercooler small talk, language, accent and fluency issues, employee engagement, building trust from afar, and productivity. All Managers or Directors of global teams will get values and new strategies for success from this module. 

Running Effective Virtual Meetings 

If you feel that most business meetings are time-wasting exercises that produce little or no results, you are not alone. Business professionals at all levels have expressed frustration with ineffective meetings, particularly video meetings. For decades, The Speech Improvement Company has diligently studied and tracked the best practices of meeting facilitation and productivity. This module helps Managers implement valuable techniques that ensure maximum participation and positive outcomes, including the elusive skill of starting and ending in time with built-in accountability to keep moving the needle forward.

Taking a Virtual Team Pulse

Taking a team pulse accurately when team members are spread across cities or countries is an invaluable skill. Unfortunately, keeping your finger on the pulse of an offsite and fragmented remote team can be challenging. The fastest way to get up-to-speed is to take a remote team pulse. Utilize the tools in this model to quickly determine how your team is doing, from their mental health to what they are working towards on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Developing Your Virtual Communication Style 

What two words would you like people to say about you after you have left a meeting or a conversation? This answer defines your communication style. Style coaching is one of our most successful leadership and management offerings. It allows senior executives, managers, and emerging leaders to achieve their vision of presenting themselves. Our coaches work with clients on their core communication skills, beginning with their two style words. The result is authentic, comfortable, and valid leadership or management capabilities.

Establishing Virtual Touchpoints

Finding the right balance of outreach and check-ins with remote teams can be difficult. Too little communication and remote teams feel deserted and isolated, too many check-ins, and the team feel suffocated and micromanaged. This module helps determine the type of frequency of touchpoints needed and then find the right balance for the ebbs and flows of remote work. Learn how to provide virtual check-ins that are productive and supportive in the way your unique team requires.

Managing Difficult People 

We don't always get to choose who we lead or manage. Even when we do, relationships change, personalities clash, and interactions can become difficult. This module introduces the importance of understanding various personalities and work styles. Training and coaching sessions use real-life issues to practice diffusing conflict, creating mutual understanding, and enhancing your team's ability to work together, even when you cannot manage your employees face to face. 

Building Trusting Relationships Virtually

When relationships are healthy, you can communicate anything. When they are not secure, even the most honest feedback becomes difficult. This module explains why and how healthy relationships are created using our original research, which has unveiled the two most essential characteristics for building a strong virtual working relationship. This module utilizes practice to strengthen the techniques and skills that foster trusting relationships.

Strategies for Delegating Virtually

Have you delegated tasks to discover that the result is not even close to what you had in mind? How do you delegate to a person who does not report to you, or who consistently drops the ball, or who you can no longer visit by popping by their desk? In this module, learn the five steps to effective delegation of tasks to ensure your desired outcomes are met. 

Disciplining Virtually

The word alone carries negative connotations, but effective leaders and managers know that disciplining is to educate and improve behavior. This module covers discipline as a core competency that leaders and managers must possess. Participants will learn how to construct a compelling message and deliver it with a keen awareness of timing, phrasing, body language, tone of voice, and listener need. 

Delivering Feedback Virtually

The act of giving feedback has been the subject of intense and extensive academic studies. Contemporary research suggests that there are several feedback types, strategies, and purposes. Still, many leaders and managers find the process uncomfortable or ineffective. This module is designed to help leaders and managers identify various approaches to giving feedback virtually and learning the most useful words, phrases, attitudes, and strategies to achieve the desired outcome, even through video platforms. Participants will learn how to use the right words at the right time and in the right way.

Managing Remote Tools: Match the Channel to the Message

Using company-wide virtual tools effectively and efficiently is vital in a remote workspace. Most organizations have tools for team commutation, meetings and presentations, project management, time management, and file sharing. This module helps managers answer an essential question: Is everyone clear about when, how, and why each virtual tool is used? The goal is to find a consensus on how and when different tools are utilized.

Most organizations have tools for COMMUNICATION, meetings....

Individual Coaching

Individual Virtual Speaker Coaching 

The Speech Improvement Company offers individual 1:1 coaching for anyone who wants to improve and strengthen their speech communication skills. The personalized feedback allows for rapid progress in a private coaching format. Many managers and leaders select individual speech coaching to strengthen how they deliver feedback, motivate, inspire, present and persuade. Available in 60 or 90-minute sessions, one-on-one coaching helps executives improve their speaking skills when using all forms of virtual communication, from phone calls to Zoom meetings to prerecorded Presentations.

Speaker Preparation for Investor Meeting Presentations

We prepare speakers for Investor Relations presentations in this highly customized coaching program. Coaching is available for any type of media used on video, either pre-recorded segments, fireside chats or live streamed presentations to Investors. Understanding how to speak concisely and with maximum engagement on video takes practice and skill.

From using video screen space to guidance on sound and proper lighting techniques, virtual Investor Meetings are filled with unique challenges. With our support, presenters can prepare quickly and effectively for upcoming virtual Investor meetings. To learn more about our approach, you can read our Bain Capital Client Case Study here.

Virtual Conference Speaker Coaching

We offer speaker preparation for Virtual Conferences, Panels, Fireside Chats, Boards, Shareholders, Moderators, and Keynotes. Let us know about your event and how we can help you reach excellence as a virtual speaker. 

Burst Learning

Burst Learning — or microlearning — is designed to reinforce communication coaching and training in short bursts. These self-contained, engaging, 5- to 8-minute training interactions deliver topic-specific content through an interactive and engaging learning approach. Burst learning can be a quick refresher to past training or implemented or a new short learning module. Available either prerecorded or live, microlearning reinforces critical messages to keep essential skills top-of-mind and extends your training dollars by offering high-performance skills in less time.