Virtual teams existed long before the days of COVID-19, but the pandemic has heightened the need for us all to work remotely, cancelling talks and other events we may otherwise have hosted or attended in person. 

When you’re working virtually, you’re going to have to present information to your colleagues or to a wider audience, or even just discuss business. Communicating offline and virtually are two different things, however. Even managers, who are constantly developing their skills and are used to communicating with teams, should work on this important skill. 

This post will discuss virtual communication and its purpose, look at the differences between virtual communication and office communication and provide public speaking tips so you can communicate clearly with virtual teams when engaging with them online.

What is virtual communication?

Virtual communication refers to using different types of technology — audio or video — to communicate with people who aren’t physically in the room with us. 

What is the purpose of virtual communication?

The purpose of virtual communication is to be able to communicate when the physical distance between different members of a team, or other circumstance, make it impossible for them to meet offline. Virtual communication tools bridge the physical gaps between team members.

Differences between virtual communication and office communication

Of course, working remotely and working in an office are two different things. Below are some of the key differences between virtual communication and communicating in an office:

  • office communication gives you more access to facial expressions, body language, and other nonverbal cues, whereas virtual communication offers less non-verbal communication;
  • office interaction creates a clearer context around communications, whereas, in the virtual space, communications may occur with less context around them;
  • office interaction creates better opportunities for relationship building, whereas virtual team members may be working in isolation.

Despite the advantages of office communication, virtual communication and the digital facilitation of it, bring advantages to the table, too:

  • savings on the cost of travel;
  • no need to worry about meeting logistics;
  • potential for greater productivity.
  • more flexibility;
  • fewer restrictions on the number of participants, if any at all;
  • a way to support different communication styles and personality styles;
  • longer interaction and the ability to collaborate before, between, and after meetings.

How to improve your virtual communication skills

At some point, you’ll have to present information to your team or generally communicate with them in a virtual meeting. Below are some tips to help you deliver your communication effectively and overcome any public speaking jitters you might have.

Eliminate distractions

Every noise will be audible, as the team are likely to be listening to your talk through headphones. Minimise any distractions that could divert their attention from what you’re saying. That means removing any rustling papers, switching off any email notifications, and turning off your mobile phone. 

Dress well

You might be appearing on camera, but you should still dress well. The image quality on people’s cameras will vary, so wear something that will stand out against your background. Block colours work better than patterns, but practise standing in front of the camera and the background to see what will look best.

Look into the camera

Look into the camera directly. Smile warmly. If you have to work with other media while you’re presenting, set the window with the audience in it as close to the camera as possible to minimise any time you’re looking away from it. You’ll convey more authority and presence while you’re talking.

Pay attention to body language

Body language has an immense impact on how your team will receive your message. Your non-verbal cues can indicate how you’re feeling while you’re delivering your talk. They can engage the team and influence what they think.

Work on your body language. Record your speech in front of a camera. Watch it with the sound off to see what kind of cues you’re giving.

Rehearse repeatedly

Practise as much as possible. The more you practise, the more confidence you’ll build. You’ll also be able to review your delivery and make adjustments before it’s time to present to your colleagues. 

Practising for a virtual presentation gives you the advantage that your live presentation and the recording of it will be the same. How you appear and sound on the recording is how the audience will receive you. Use this to really tighten up your presentation and delivery.

Speak confidently

Prepare your speech as much as possible — including for anything that could go wrong — and make some notes. The more you prepare your material, the easier and more confidently you’ll deliver it. Visualise yourself delivering a confident speech. Replace any negative thoughts with thoughts of past successful communications. 

Brush up your public speaking skills

We’re here to support you. If you’re feeling anxious about presenting to your team or to wider audiences online, sign up for our Public Speaking Masterclass so you can learn to deliver your message clearly, confidently, and effectively. Check out our blog post on virtual team meetings, too, and get the most out of our resources for you.

You can contact us about any of the training courses, programmes or workshops by sending us an email to enquiries@inpd.co.uk, filling in our Contact Form or speaking to one of our advisors on 0161 826 5843. We look forward to guiding you.

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