Heriot Brown

W W W . H E R I O T B R O W N . C O M

As most of us are still working from home, we are communicating virtually for long periods every day, with diverse groups of people from different cultures, forums and time zones. We are continuing our usual work tasks and commitments, but now having to deliver meetings and presentations as well as communicate a host of difficult messages.

We were joined by General Counsels from a great mix of FTSE 100 blue chip corporations to high growth companies, who also shared their experiences.

We have prepared a summary of Top Tips for effective communication

and leadership in a virtual environment.

What specific tools and techniques can we use to communicate with influence and impact in a virtual world?



Our Managing Director, Scott, started his legal career as a Corporate Lawyer before also completing client secondments in-house. He founded Heriot Brown to contribute to the growing in-house legal market.


We were lucky to be joined by Executive and Leadership Coach, Tami McGonigal of the Rinzen Project. Reach out to Tami McGonigal directly at the  Rinzen  Project  https://rinzenproject.com/  or email [email protected].


The key to success is smart prep. Abraham Lincoln – if you have 8 hours to cut down a tree spend 6hrs polishing your axe.’


Start by accepting the reality of the challenges we are faced with. Even if you feel you are not personally so affected – show empathy and compassion towards others who are.


There are always gains and opportunities such as saving money and having more time with family. Focus on having self-belief – turn to your own resources – you have the skills and experience to communicate effectively – work to your strengths.

For those of you who are currently winning (maybe with a generational advantage?) make the most of your head start and help others who

Communicating with impact starts with you communicating with yourself more effectively. Regularly observe your own physical and emotional state with curiosity and compassion. Think about how are you feeling and what can you let go e.g. guilt? control? perfection? What can you let in e.g. kind words? kind gestures? more patience? more routine (switching off at a fixed time?) If you are doing your best – you are doing enough. Allow yourself some slack. Communicating involves collaboration – ask questions and seek support from others.



Think about your audience. Be aware of generational/cross-cultural issues – be open and flexible. Don’t judge. Don’t assume. Take note of any differences and seek to connect through your gift of communication. Communication is about building trust – it is more than just a one-off transaction. Be patient with others, actively listen and understand how they feel.

Think about how you should present yourself. How big are you in your frame? Ensure your background has minimum distraction – though not so minimal that you look austere and as though you are working from a prison. Lighting makes a big difference to your professional glow – sit in front of natural light – or on a gloomy day, put a desk lamp behind your screen and towards you. A few books, plants, paintings are good. A screen with your own organisation`s brand is more effective especially for your external client/stakeholder meetings/webinars. Prop your laptop on some books so that the camera is at the level with your eye line. Posture + Eye contact – forearm on desk; feet flat on ground. Chest out – take up space in the world, beam out light from within! Look straight into the camera in a direct, open but not intimidating or creepy way! If in doubt, smile – the Mona Lisa smile is a good neutral smile.

What to wear to be more visible? Avoid white, black and busy patterns. Don’t overdress, but avoid becoming too informal. What is a safe bet ?

e.g. men, a shirt/shirt + jumper – women T-shirt and jacket or a dress/blouse/shirt… Of course you can choose to be more relaxed about your bottom half, but don’t start wandering around !!!

Respect your audience. Structure and choreograph – tell a story. Remember the beginning, the middle and an end. Bring out your own voice from within for a personal touch. Use contrast (modulate your tone, use deliberate gestures for emphasis, seek participation, use props, video, chatroom, break out rooms) to maintain interest. Use slides sparingly– images are more effective than words. Get on top of the technicalities, check your sound quality. Notes are useful, but written scripts are a false friend. Be prepared to adapt. Formality and pomposity do not work in a virtual world. Even in a big group – making a 1:1 human impact is key. For further inspiration in managing your energy, check out the CBeebies children`s TV presenters or if your message is a little bit more serious – try your favourite news reader.


You don’t have to try to implement everything at once. Start by experimenting with one or two tools and techniques that resonate with you.

Pause,  reflect  ,  keep  going.  Trial  and  error.  Enjoy  and  focus  on  the journey not the end result. Aristotle… ‘excellence is not an act – it’s a habit.’

[email protected]

0203 875 3330

1st Floor,1 Fore St Ave, London, EC2Y 9DT

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