By Paul Barton
HAS CORONAVIRUS changed public speaking forever? Well, our business certainly has taken a dramatic and sudden downward turn. Workshops and speaking engagements, even those booked months from now, cancelled.Personal coaching clients, wary about face-to-face contact, have all postponed or cancelled sessions. All new business came to an abrupt halt as caution turned to outright fear.
The world has suddenly turned nearly 100% virtual for business communication. Nearly every business, large and small, that we’ve talked to have all their employees working from home. For some, this isn’t new. But for many, doing business from home is uncharted territory. I believe virtual work will become a bigger part of our lives long after the virus has subsided.
But remember this: Whether you’re trying to get your point across from the board room or on a laptop from your dining room table, basic public speaking skills apply. And there are many new considerations that come into play as well.
For instance, eye contact is still important but it now means looking into the built-in camera on your laptop instead of at individuals in your live audience. Engagement is still crucial but it now means using polls, chat boxes, Q&As, and other creative ways. Body language and humor and still important but need to be approached differently because visual cues and vocal subtleties can’t be as easily detected in a virtual environment.
New Approaches to Public Speaking
Approaching this new way to communicate is not as easy as flipping a switch. You cannot just do everything you used to do only now do it via video-conferring and expect it to translate fully. And that’s assuming it was done perfectly before!
We’re here to help you navigate the world of virtual business communications. This isn’t new to us. For instance, in 2018 we published tips for presenting via speakerphone and we teamed with New York City-based social media expert Dhariana Lozano for a webinar on ways to engage virtual audiences. [Transcript here] You can expect to see more posts here on communicating effectively in this brave new virtual world.
Virtual Business Communication Services
And please bear in mind, all of the 1-on-1 personal coaching packages that Michele Trent and I offer are available as less expensive virtual options.
We also have an online course on conquering public speaking fear and more courses are on the way.
Meanwhile, some of you know that I also operate Paul Barton Communications, a business communication consulting firm. I’m busy right now helping to craft coronavirus messaging for employees of a large healthcare provider. We’re available to help you and your organization as well.
The single most important constant, whether live or virtual business communication, is this: It’s always, always, always about your audience. And for those of us at Phoenix Public Speaking, that means you. Let us know how we can help.
Together, we’ll all get through this. Be safe, be well.