Top Tips for Delivering Communication Skills Teaching Online

The resources on this page describe and demonstrate approaches to running online communication skills teaching sessions for health professional learners.  These resources are aimed at helping teachers of healthcare communication, simulated patients and learners consider the challenges and potential adaptations for online communication skills teaching during the pandemic and beyond.

These resources use the Agenda Led Outcomes-based Assessment (ALOBA) approach to experiential communication skills teaching sessions and Zoom as the online platform.  Many of the tips can be adapted to other experiential teaching and online formats.


I. Guides for delivering online communication skills teaching:

II. Video clips demonstrating* components of an online communication skills teaching session:

  • Starting the session: Exploring communication skills theory using slide share and breakout rooms
  • Preparing learners for role play: Setting the scene, exploring learner’s agenda, assigning observation tasks
  • Roleplay and feedback: Running role play, learner perspective and agenda refinements, feedback and alternative approaches, re-rehearsal
  • Rolling roleplay: Example of using same case several times in a session by having learner start where last learner left off
  • Closing the session:  Generalizing learning concepts and using chat function to collect learner take away points

*Thanks to the facilitator and medical students who participating in making this video.  These are not intended to represent 'perfect practice' or the single best way to deliver an online session but simply give the viewers an illustration of learning points in the guides and a glimpse into what an online session might look like.  Note, some learners were asked to demonstrate less than effective communication skills for benefit of the video.

These resources were developed by Sandra Winterburn, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia & Marcy Rosenbaum, University Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.  Thanks to Jane Miller, University of Iowa & Katie Ellis, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, for their input.

If you have any feedback and additional tips for online teaching, we would welcome hearing from you at