Dear Latimer: Our Answers to Your Questions

Hello friends! We recently added a new element to our website, where you can submit your communication questions directly to us. We will collect the questions, and either answer directly back to you, or when appropriate, publish a series of questions and our answers on our blog. Our goal here is to give you some quick support and answer your most pressing questions about the all-important skill of persuasive communication.

So, fire away with those questions, and we look forward to hearing from you. If you want to submit a question, look for the “Dear Latimer” box on the right side of the screen on our blog page.

Have a great day! ~Dean and Hannah

Dear Latimer,

I have a really hard time being a good listener in a virtual meeting. Any tips on how I can be better here?

Adam, major aerospace company

Hey Adam. Great question. This one comes up all the time. You are not alone with this struggle. The people struggling with virtual listening is a “really big club.”

There are a couple of things that will help, in our experience. First of all, we encourage everyone to have their video on during virtual meetings, as often as possible and practical. There are lots of reasons why this matters: it creates a closer environment and the opportunity for deeper connection (something that matters a lot these days); it also makes listening easier, because you can pick up more cues, like facial reactions, and body language shifts, which enrich our listening; and finally, when we are on video, it creates more accountability and makes it harder to “get away” with multi-tasking.

So start there… encourage everyone to keep their video on!

Beyond that, we recently wrote a post on the various levels of listening. You can find the link here: There is lots of great information in there.

We hope this helps, and let us know how this goes! Thanks for writing.

Dear Latimer,

I recently took one of your classes, and learned a lot about how to put together my slide deck. Our manager sponsored the training, and was really enthusiastic about it. But the manager did not participate, and in his slide decks he breaks all the guidelines you gave us. He holds us accountable to follow our Latimer training, but does not hold himself accountable in the same way. We really want him to change his approach. What should we do?


Hey there. Thanks for this one. This question comes up a lot, in private conversation. The dynamics within teams and organizations can often be complicated, and our team tries to be really sensitive in how we interact and navigate these sensitivities. This is probably a longer conversation, but here are a few thoughts that could be helpful to you.

First, play the long game. Don’t just focus on trying to impact and “win” this one conversation about slide decks. Teammates interact in lots of ways on lots of topics. Look at the full picture and the “whole board” about the ways you need to interact with your manager. If the full ledger of your interactions is largely positive, except for one or two things, then we would encourage you to handle this carefully and gently. If, however, this is one of many many examples where he holds you to a different standard then he holds himself, then you might push a little harder. In other words, is the slide deck disconnect the exception or the rule?

Second, look closely for other examples of how feedback was given to this person. Have there been any success stories, where feedback was given, and it was received well? If so, who gave that feedback? How was it handled? Anything you can model there? Conversely, are there any examples of feedback received badly? Anything to avoid?

In our experience, important and potentially sensitive feedback is often best delivered by a person who makes the recipient feel safe and is trusted. The power dynamic will matter, a lot. So, think a lot about WHO should give the feedback, before you worry about HOW to give the feedback. The messenger will matter… a lot.

Third, an easy way to deal with this might be to get the group that went through training together, and have a team-wide conversation with the manager that goes something like this… what should our group norms for slides be? Should we all be following the Latimer model? And if so, maybe we can create a template for all of us to follow? In other words, rather than make it about HIS behaviors, have a conversation about what the group should be doing. This approach might take the emotion out of the discussion a bit.

Finally, keep modeling those good behaviors! Keep the faith!

Here are some other posts on this topic you may find useful:

We hope this helps! Good luck.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.