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How Recruiters Can Get the Most out of Virtual Communications


The world has changed. Much as we might be looking forward to a lifting of restrictions, a return to where we were before coronavirus is a long way away. Some experts believe we could be living with it for years to come, and whatever the “new normal” looks like, recruiters can expect some established business practices to change.

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Most businesses rely on interaction with people outside their office, and recruitment is no exception. You need to maintain relationships with clients, contractors and suppliers. In a world where attending a series of in-person meetings could be seen as dangerously reckless, virtual meetings and training are going to be very important.

As you have probably noticed already, virtual communication is very easy to get wrong, and once you lose the “room” it’s much harder to get them back. The most common mistake is in treating a virtual environment like an in-person one. Virtual communication is a very different experience, and it requires a different approach.

  In-Person Virtual
Social Interaction Happens organically Must be deliberately planned and orchestrated
Environment 3D multisensory environment, easy to hold attention and engage 2D through computer screen. Engagement is more difficult. Participants are easily distracted
Engagement Can rely on presence / personality to create an emotional connection and engagement Must use technology and design to create an emotional connection and engagement
Attention Can deliver 8 hours of content in a day Delivery must be arranged in short bursts of 90 minutes or less for optimal engagement

So, given that you’re used to using your mastery of in-person communication to succeed as a recruiter, how can you transfer that success to a virtual environment?

Choosing the right platform

In the rush to get up and running during lockdown, many businesses simply started using the tools they already had available, or adopted the first free-to-use platform their Google search threw up. This can be a mistake, as it can lead you to plan based on what the software can do, rather than choosing software that does what you need.

The platform you choose should reflect what you want to achieve. Possibilities include:

  • Short knowledge-sharing with large groups
  • Leading meetings or virtual coaching
  • Delivery of in-depth instructor-led training

Depending on your needs you might choose a webinar platform, a virtual meeting platform, or a purpose-built learning platform with virtual classroom tools.

Of course, you might find that you need to use whichever platform your end client uses, or there might be a particular platform that many of your contractors are familiar with already.

Design content specifically for the virtual environment

It’s often not enough to simply repurpose the same content you use for in-person events. If you treat it like the online version of your “live show” there’s a very good chance that it won’t work. It’s not just your ability to read your audience and interact with them that’s impaired – the whole audience experience is different.

The people you’re trying to reach are surrounded by distractions and it’s very easy to lose their attention. At the same time, the emotional impact you need is more difficult to create through a screen. When creating content for use in this environment, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What action do you want your participants to take?
  • What information or new knowledge do you want your participants to take away?
  • People act on their emotions, so carefully consider how you want your participants to feel.

Keep your audience engaged

This is obvious advice, and you’ll see it given for in-person events as well, but in-person you can use your presence and personality to achieve it, even if the content itself is dry or dull. In a virtual environment you don’t have that luxury, so you have to plan attention management and engagement techniques into the content itself.

Your participants need to be doing something, seeing something new, having to think about what they’re seeing or contributing frequently to keep them involved, make them feel what you want them to, and drive them towards the desired action.

Examples include:

  • Polls to drive thinking, action, curiosity, and discussion
  • Exercises for analysis, discussion, presentation, and feedback
  • Games and simulations with immediate feedback and scoring
  • Quizzes and tests to keep people on their toes
  • Webcams to create emotional connections § Microphones to engage verbally
  • Chat boxes for opinions and questions

Partner with a host

It’s relatively common for in-person events to be run by a single facilitator, but for really successful delivery of virtual communication, it’s often wise to involve a host, who can welcome participants, monitor the technology for the inevitable issues, manage questions and chat-boxes and generally help the whole thing to run smoothly. Think of the producer running a live TV broadcast, lining up the shots and queuing the music while the anchor delivers the show.

Going it alone can allow minor technical issues to derail the whole thing, leaving you looking like an amateur and losing your participants attention while you struggle to fix it. Your host could be a technical expert from your own IT team, or someone from another organisation, for example a business partner or service provider.

Keep it shorter

Going hand in hand with attention management and the ease with which even skilled facilitators can lose a virtual room, your virtual content should usually be faster paced and shorter in duration than comparable face to face events. For example, while in-person training can be delivered at “training days”, good online trainers think in “sessions”, usually of no more than 90 minutes. As a rule of thumb, the same content would usually be spread over more slides, with less content on each one, and presented at a faster pace than an in-person event.

If you have any questions, or if we can help in any way, please call our expert team on 01296 468 483 or email info@orangegenie.com.


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