The COVID-19 pandemic brought widespread changes to the workplace, with people across industries adopting a work-from-home model. This posed myriad challenges to team communication.

For those who hadn’t worked from home before, the learning curve was often steep, and the challenge was all the more difficult for people entering organizations during this time.

The following are a few of the issues people faced when working from home and participating in virtual meetings:

• New software and learning curves

• Connectivity issues

• People talking over each other

• Distractions in the home (family, pets, competing schedules)

Facilitated Sessions for Communicating in the New Normal

During the pandemic, world-renowned risk-communication specialist Dr. Vincent Covello partnered with Throughline, a company specializing in innovative design and enterprise strategy, to host half- and full-day sessions to align teams, share knowledge, and promote the science-based lessons taught by Dr. Covello.

To craft these sessions, Dr. Covello and Throughline strategists worked with leadership teams to align organizational intent by doing the following:

• Identifying communication needs

• Codifying messaging

• Setting the agenda for sessions

• Developing content

• Creating themes and handling technical details

• Arranging guest speakers

• Constructing activities

• Hosting sessions in an interactive virtual environment

Research-Based Principles Threatening Communication

Most work-from-homers have a horror story or two about problems encountered during virtual meetings, many related to surprise appearances by family and pets.

But anyone participating in virtual meetings is subject to possibly adverse effects related to the science-based principles at the heart of risk, high-concern, and crisis communication teachings.

The following are three of the most important principles influencing the effectiveness of virtual meetings:

• Trust is established in 30 seconds or less.

• Perceived risk significantly reduces communication effectiveness.

• Mental noise can reduce a person’s ability to hear, understand, and remember information by 80%.

Pathway Prompt: How have any of these principles negatively affected a virtual meeting in which you’ve participated?

Communicating Effectively When Feelings, Fears, and Facts Collide

More information about risk, high-concern, and crisis communication can be found in Dr. Covello’s video-based course Pathway to Risk, High-Concern, and Crisis Communication.

This master class introduces communicators to the tools and techniques for communicating effectively—while providing greater insight into why audiences react the way they do during times of stress.

The course comprises nine video lectures and accompanying text modules, plus supplemental materials for putting valuable lessons into practice. More information about the course, including group rates and partnering opportunities, can be found by emailing

Dr. Vincent Covello

Dr. Vincent Covello, director of the Center for Risk Communication, is one of the world’s leading experts and practitioners on risk, high-concern, and crisis communication. He is the author of more than 150 articles in scientific journals and the author/editor of more than 20 books.

Dr. Covello is a consultant, writer, and teacher. He is a frequent keynote speaker and has conducted communication skills training for thousands.