As we prepare to put a challenging year behind us, the 2021 communication landscape is going to look very different than it did in 2019. Our clients, colleagues, and classmates will be returning to the office at different times and for different durations, if at all.

What new communication skills do we need to be successful?

1. Versatile Communication Skills

We need to be able to adapt an in-person presentation to virtual at a moment’s notice.

In 2021, instead of rescheduling an in-person presentation to a later date, clients or colleagues will simply say “let’s do it virtually instead.” As you prepare your presentations, ask yourself “What will I do if this moves from in-person to virtual, or vice versa?”

2. Hybrid Communication Skills

More in-person meetings will have some virtual component.

You never know when someone will wake up with a cough and want to Zoom in, or a key decision-maker will decide not to travel. As you prepare for your presentations or meetings, ask the organizer in advance, “Will anyone be joining remotely?” and plan to fully engage those individuals.

3. Concise Communication Skills

Engaging our audience means being respectful of their time.

This year has overloaded all of us and we have more competition for our attention than ever. As one of our clients recently lamented, “I am not working from home, I’m living at work.” As you prepare for 2021, build the skill of brevity. Read your comments or presentations out loud and ask, “How can I cut this by 30-50%?” Consider starting with your conclusion to capture your audience’s attention up front

As we near the end of the year, let’s take a moment to pause and breathe and acknowledge how we have adapted to this massive and sudden disruption to our lives. Then, we can strategically build a plan for success in 2021.