6 Tips To Foster Positive Communication Skills Through Skill-Based Branching Scenarios

6 Tips To Foster Positive Communication Skills Through Skill-Based Branching Scenarios
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Summary: Are your corporate learners getting the experience they need from your online training? Or could they benefit from skill-based branching scenarios that immerse them in real-world situations and challenges?

How To Develop Great Communication Skills Through Skill-Based Branching Scenarios

In every communication skills online training course, there’s the same theme: messages can be misconstrued when delivered in a 'pure text' format. It’s a nuanced concept and one that is also virtually impossible to teach. However, more of us deal solely with text on a daily basis: email, social media, even our collaboration tools. So, are we truly equipped to communicate with power, passion, and authenticity in a digital world? First and foremost, we need to turn these technologies into our advantage, and using eLearning tools to provide skill-based branching scenarios can give us the skills to excel in communication: verbal and non-verbal.

Skill-Based Learning: Putting Learning Into Action

At the end of an online training course, we want to feel confident in applying our knowledge to new situations. That’s why skill-based training is so important: it’s the jump from gaining knowledge to gaining skills. A skill-based approach will give corporate learners the opportunity to put different pieces of knowledge to the test. Through branching scenarios, online training simulations, and other interactive elements, corporate learners can apply their new knowledge, along with their other experiences. This also allows corporate learners to judge for themselves whether they now have the skills required to cope in a given situation. Coming out of an online training program with new information is a stepping stone to adoption, while coming out with demonstrable new skills is a behavioral shift.

Communication Skills And Skill-Based Branching Scenarios Are A Natural Fit

There are several fundamentals of communication skills online training. The traditional approach informs a corporate learner about what they should be doing to communicate effectively, but not how to do it. Simply absorbing a list of what's good and what's bad in communicating with colleagues is, demonstrably, going to change nothing. Learning a skill like good communication is all about putting it into practice. And the trouble is, close after an online training course has been completed, there may not be the opportunities to practice everything. Without that real-world use, we don’t commit to memory, and we don’t adopt the behaviors.

Focusing on skill-based branching scenarios has a direct impact on embedding communications skills because it allows corporate learners to practice on the spot. These fundamentals of good communication skills can all be incorporated into your branching scenario design:

1. Active Listening And Questioning

Active learning is a really easy skill to practice in an online environment. You can turn it into a quiz: picking out key details and asking for gaps. Design a real-world branching scenario based on your audience. Corporate learners could play out a conversation with a customer perhaps, or a member of a different department. Then evaluate their own performance to see where they can improve.

2. Noticing Non-Verbal Cues

Use video here followed by a branching scenario that allows them to apply their newfound knowledge. Imagine you are in a conversation with the person on the video. What are they feeling and thinking? Incorporate online training characters with different expressions and body language for employees to decipher.

3. Speaking With Clarity And Authority

This is a skill that can take years to perfect. However, there are plenty of activities in online training that can help corporate learners communicate with confidence. Ask them to describe a situation in as few words as possible. Let them try, and retry as many times as they like. Follow this up with skill-based branching scenarios that enable them to choose their words carefully. For example, each decision point has 4 distinct responses, one of which is the most articulate way to decline a client bribe.

4. Using Storytelling Techniques

In communication skill online training, stories can be extremely powerful, as they lay an image in the mind of what can go wrong. Use humor if appropriate, and make sure you describe a relatable branching scenario. The corporate learner can then identify via a quiz what could be improved. For instance, the story features a character who is in conflict with a co-worker. The corporate learner must determine which communication skills the protagonist should work on, and how they might handle the situation differently.

5. Being Present: Focusing And Ignoring Distractions

Challenge your corporate learner to focus solely on the online training, to emphasize the point about distractions. Make sure you describe methods to do this and reflect them in the modules: be concise, separate difficult concepts, provide breaks. All of these traits are also crucial steps in the communication process. You can also develop timed branching scenarios wherein they must resolve the issue quickly. This actually prompts them to concentrate on the task at hand and be present in the moment.

6. Communicating With Empathy

Skill-based branching scenarios provide a fantastic way to teach corporate learners about empathy because you can provide many different perspectives all at once. Your corporate learner then has to identify what issues people are struggling with, and how to respond. Again, use online training characters that immerse them in the situation and reflect a broad range of personalities. They can even hone their empathetic abilities in the branching scenario to avoid making mistakes in the real world such as misreading someone’s emotions based on their facial expression.


It’s obvious why an interactive approach is best for communication skills online training, as communication is not a one-way activity! Corporate learners need to have the opportunity to make mistakes and see what works and what doesn’t, for themselves. Thus, letting corporate learners try out their skills through a specific, tailored branch-based scenario focuses and trains their decision-making skills. Applying this to communication helps them to decide how to respond in a given situation such as delivering bad news. For instance, ensure that the surroundings, online training characters, and situations are all as realistic as possible. Apply a specific piece of knowledge to a particular branching scenario and your corporate learner can use that information in pragmatic skills training. Don’t forget to ask for and respond to corporate learner feedback and help them collaborate with their peers. Turn communication skills training into a branching scenario and make it real.

What other skills do corporate learners need to work on? Use our free online directory to find an outsourcing partner that specializes in soft skills training. You'll find ratings, reviews, and complete solutions list that help you make the best buying decision.