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Top 4 Tips on Virtual Training

By Article, Resources

Would you believe I have now facilitated 108,000 minutes – 1800 hours or 250 live virtual trainings!

Before Covid I had facilitated only 1 hybrid event and wasn’t keen on virtual – at all! However, once all F2F trainings were cancelled (approx. 30 bookings cancelled within a week in March 2020), I decided this was the only way to keep my business going…
AND I decided I was going to get good at this virtual stuff – so I learnt from virtual masters around the world!
AND then I started practicing!
AND then I invited others to practice!
AND then I started getting asked to run my F2F trainings virtually!
AND then I started getting repeat virtual training bookings!
AND then I started getting asked to train others in virtual facilitation!
By the end of 2020, I won the Breakthrough Speaker of Year 2021 (through the Professional Speakers Australia) due to my successful pivot to virtual.
This week (2.5 years later), I will facilitate my 250th virtual training (with the majority of these full day trainings). That’s a lot of time behind the desk and in front of the screen! So I wanted to share with you my 4 key learnings from all that virtual training (+ a few virtual keynotes too).


1. Get the right equipment

My virtual set-up keeps evolving (see below for current gear). Now you don’t need to have 3 cameras (even though for me it is required), but you do need to have at least 1 good camera – my preference is still the Logitec C922 HD or Logitec Brio 4k. Although more important than the camera (with good lighting – Etoile mini ring) is a good quality mic. I have the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB – although a $40 Logitec headset from Officeworks is still pretty good – please don’t rely on your computer audio – most are not good and your sound will annoy those attending pretty quickly!

2. Create expecations pre-training

I send a pre-email that includes filling in what they are hoping to gain, reading over the learning outcomes, printing the booklet we will be using, thinking about a situation they will apply the theory to as we go through the content and – of course – instructions on how to be tech-prepared. I also note expectations about being present, actively participating and ensuring cameras are on for the whole session.  

3. Create an enjoyable environment

It is about making it fun for people – disarming with humour and then exploring the learning outcomes within a psychologically safe space. I always create ‘group agreements’ with participants to help create a space whereby participants are present and mindful.

4. Keep people moving + be creative!

I term it the ‘Rule of 5’ – that is, every 5 minutes participants should be doing something, contributing in some way – it could be answering a question in chat, going to a break-out room, filling in a jamboard or completing a word cloud or quiz or even finding an object in their space that represents a concept you are exploring. If you just sit and talk (I call them the ‘talkers + tellers’) people will very quickly disengage. You need to keep mixing it up and ensuring participants are contributing frequently. I would use at least 2 break-out rooms every hour (and I break every 60min to give people time away from their computers).

PLUS a bonus tip!

Get really good with the virtual platform (Zoom is easily the best to use as a trainer) + really comfortable with the virtual tools. Although I know 30+ external apps, I use 5 frequently (Jamboard, Wheel of Names, Mentimeter, Ahaslides, Snapcamera) and I know them very well. This gives me user confidence and I know how to troubleshoot if there is a problem. Of course, this has taken time and practice and I recommend using only 1 or 2 to begin until confidence grows – then add another + then another…

Well, luckily, my next Virtual Training Masterclass is on November 17 and you are welcome to join!

You will become a super-pro in no time and I will share all my tips + tricks + tools (+ you can be certified as a Certified Virtual Trainer – CVT if you so choose!)
Check out all the details here!
See you soon in the virtual world, and until then,

Enjoy your conflict!

Scott 😉

Top 4 Tips When Having a Difficult Conversation (DC)

By Article, Resources

The following tips are based on my experience as an accredited mediator (which is like facilitating a DC with 2 parties) and also from a 5-day training course at Harvard Uni (I attended Harvard in Boston 2019 pre-COVID) and the corresponding book: Difficult Conversations – How to Discuss What Matters Most (Stone, Patton & Heen).

TIP 1: Be mindful on how you start the conversation.

Most people begin by making the other person the problem – which is likely to create a defensive response.
Instead of starting with ‘I’d like to talk to you about your lateness to meetings’,
start with …
‘I’d like to talk to you about meeting times and make sure we are on the same page.’

TIP 2: Be aware of the tendency to go into a difficult conversation thinking you are right or know all the important information.

If you do, you will appear closed to viewing the situation from the other person’s perspective. This again will create defensiveness and potentially provoke an adversarial reaction in the other person.

TIP 3: Be clear on your purpose before going into the conversation.

If your purpose is to try to persuade, trick or force the other – then the conversation is unlikely to go well. Again, it will create a defensive response in the other person. Harvard recommends instead that your initial purpose firstly, is to understand their perspective, the impact and what they see is important. Then it is about you sharing the same. Once you both understand where each other is coming from then it is about finding mutual solutions or agreements that are going to work for both sides.

TIP 4: Be able to manage your emotions in the conversation!

This is a challenging one as this needs to be done in the moment – during the conversation. It will help being clear prior to the conversation on what your intent is and how the situation has impacted you. It is also important to prepare your openness to hearing their experience and being clear (+ constructive) about how you will express any emotions that arise during the conversation.

There is lots more to these difficult conversations than we often think, including how to manage challenging behaviours during the conversation (e.g. diverting the topic, blaming, escalating, shutting down, etc.). Doing them well can create connection and build understanding, doing them poorly can result in increased conflict and further divide.

If you want to learn a great model + increase your confidence in having difficult conversations, then join me at my next open training. Alternatively, I run this interactive and engaging training for staff, leaders and teams as an in-house training.

Enjoy your conflict!

Scott 😉

A Stuck Negotiation – The Problem with Positions

By Article, Resources, Video

I had a negotiation dilemma recently.

I provided a training session for a professional organisation. It went very well so they requested a series of sessions. They asked for a 10% discount if they booked a certain number. I agreed.

When an email confirming the agreement arrived, the 10% discount was per workshop and it was minus GST – becoming an 18% discount!

Confused, I queried this. I received a ‘take it or leave it’ position.

Concerned, I asked if we could meet to work out collaborative + creative options that would work for us both? They wouldn’t budge!

It had become adversarial – they were stuck in a position and it wasn’t helping the outcome or the relationship…

So what went wrong?

Being stuck in a position + the choice of negotiation model.

In my experience, conflict often arises due to the fixed position of one or both parties.

The problem is when the “I’m right” positions (or points of view) become stuck and entrenched into adversarial sides. My role as a mediator is to facilitate a (psychologically safe) process that enables both parties to leave their oppositional ends to move toward understanding the other.

By exploring the other’s position relative to your own, it will more than likely shift your perception of the situation (and of them).

Your (one-sided) perspective is only part of the whole story. It does, however, take courage + willingness to explore. If both have genuine intent to want to understand the other (and hence, the entire story), then the majority of the time the conflict will be resolved.

Both parties will have left their previous positions to move toward the centre of mutual understanding. If they refuse to leave their position (through fear or obstinance), then the conflict (& it’s consequences on individual + team wellbeing) will escalate.

This is applicable in both our professional + personal lives.


1. Know/ Understand your position is only part of the story
2. Approach the other with a collaborative + curious mindset
3. Listen to understand the other’s perspective (remember – you don’t have to agree with their perspective – just understand)
4. Explore options that are mutually beneficial + agreeable.


Most of us are happy to play the bartering game to get a quick walk-away deal on that fake Rolex in Bali but will a positional bargaining model work when you want to negotiate a contract or pay rise AND need to keep the relationship intact with the other party?

Probably not.

Positional (or distributional) bargaining is a model that frames negotiation as an adversarial, zero-sum exercise (i.e. if I get more you lose more) focused on claiming rather than creating value.

Typically, one party will start (or anchor) with a high (or low) offer and the other a correspondingly low (or high) one. Then a series of concessions are made until an agreement is reached somewhere in the middle or no agreement is reached at all.

  • The problems with positional bargaining in a nutshell?
    Negotiators who bargain over positions are typically reluctant to back down and become invested in “saving face.”
  • It often becomes about control, a contest of egoic wills, a win-lose war, resulting in anger and resentment.
  • Parties tend to perceive offers as signs of weakness and vulnerability rather than as potential value-creating moves.
  • The fixation on winning can blow up both the negotiation at hand and any chance of a long-term business relationship.

And unfortunately, for many, positional bargaining is the only negotiation model they know.

So, what’s the alternative you may ask?

The collaborative negotiation model (AKA integrative or interest-based negotiation)!

It is not only ethical, it will also create the best deal and build the relationship! Win/ Win/ Win!

In 2019, I was fortunate to go to Boston and attend the Negotiation & Leadership Program at Harvard Law School with experts such as Bruce Patton (Difficult Conversations) & Gabriela Blum.

They spoke about the 3 core components in a negotiation – the substance (i.e. what you are negotiating about), the process of negotiation (i.e the model) + the relationship (ensuring it will be sustainable).

They advised that the collaborative negotiation model can expand the pie of value in a dispute by opening up key interests and preferences, which can help identify possible solutions that will work for all. Working to generate creative options in contract and business negotiations can help avoid positional bargaining and achieve mutually beneficial and sustainable agreements (+ relationships!).

It is not about tricks + tactics rather it is about genuinely understanding each other and having the intent of trying to make it work for both.
Those who have been to my mediation and/ or difficult conversations training will know of my CINO model and its importance within negotiation.

C – what are your concerns?
I – what is important to you?
N – what are your needs?
O – what can you offer?

If we can understand the CINO of both, then agreements can be created that meet the needs of both. It does however require a mind shift from trying to win as much of the fixed pie just for ourselves, to expanding the pie in collaboration with the other to create even more value for both parties.

Video from Harvard here:

PS I offer collaborative negotiation as an in-house training and use the collaborative process in the following (open + in-house) trainings: Difficult Conversations, Mediation + Team Culture.

The Importance of Empathy in Workplace Conflict

By Article, Resources

It can’t be understated. The capacity to feel empathy enables us to understand the other. To put ourself in their experience.

How would I feel in their position?
What would I need if that was me?

Now, of course, it is not to assume what the other would want.
We do need to be curious and explore what they actually feel and need.
These self-inquiry questions do, however, begin to open our awareness (+ heart).

In my role, I see a major contributing factor in conflict is lack of empathy for the other.
Empathy is often avoided and is replaced with ‘they’ blame.
They… They… They…
It can be hard for us to take responsibility for harm.
It is painful to admit wrongdoing.
So we avoid responsibility and divert with blame.
It takes off some heat (in the short term)
In the longer term, the chasm of conflict widens.
The misunderstanding escalates.
And I am called in!

For the benefit of personal + professional growth, take responsibility for your contribution and the impact on the other.

Ask yourself:
How would I feel in their position?
What would I need if that was me?

Everyone will be happier.

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