- Think about what you CAN do online that you cannot do face to face
Quite often we try to translate what we would do face to face into the virtual world and it feels like a compromise. So, think about what you can do online that is really hard face to face. For example, getting many ideas in 1 minute becomes easy when you don’t have to give space to individual contributions one after the other. Chat, whiteboard and online tools like LINOIT and MURAL make gathering thoughts easy!
- Be yourself, get chatty and encourage as much interaction as possible
Think about how you will introduce the event and welcome people. In the same way that when you are face-to-face, you would say hello as people come in, do the same, make small talk and get people relaxed and ready to contribute. It’s not so much breaking the ice but settling people in and getting them over that initial screen of faces staring at them (if they have their videos on). Ask them to say where they are calling from in the chat and what the weather is doing. Or maybe get them to share “One thing that…..” which is relevant to the topic of the day.
- More slides, more pictures, fewer words
Don’t use the slides as a teleprompter. Use notes on your desk if you need a prompt and make the visuals appealing with pictures, questions and interesting statistics (if appropriate). Change the slides more frequently than if you were face to face and think about how to engage people by inserting questions. They can chat while you speak in the chat box.
- Think about group size
If it is a small group (<12) you can invite personal thoughts and contributions on microphone whereas this should be managed more carefully for larger groups. By all means invite people on microphone but get them to raise their hand and make it clear you are looking for just 1 minute, 1 thought etc. You can still make it interactive if the group size is large but you may have to use tools like MURAL or LINOIT to capture thoughts and ideas.
- Consider having a host for larger groups to deal with the tech and chatter
A good host will take the pressure of the facilitator and keep an eye on the chat as well as take over in case of any technical issues. Communicate what support you would like from the host: from adding in questions, spotting who might want to contribute to injecting a controversial question!
- Belt and braces
If anything is likely to go wrong in the virtual world, it can and it will! So always have a back-up plan. Send your slides and session plan to the host just in case your internet connection goes down. They can keep things going while you get back in. Some activities may take too long or go too quickly – what will you do to “fill” or avoid that “we have run out of time….” announcement. Can they continue adding their thoughts on an online platform? Consider having a tablet as an extra screen so you can see what your participants can see.
- Change pitch, pace and tone every 3-5 minutes. Keep them engaged.
There are lots of ways to keep them engaged and here are just a few:
- Chat box (multiple chats)
- Annotate slide
- Linoit – click here for an example
- Yes/no questions agree/disagree
- Sliding scale on how they are feeling (or emojis)
- Break outs
- Think of a magical blend – I have a100 ways to learn playlist on the LPI YouTube channel
- Use workbooks and worksheets to help cement the learning
According to the Harvard Business Review, hand writing your own notes has been shown to be more beneficial that typing them in. So encourage it!
- Learn about digital body language – you can see if people are engaging
Just because you can’t see everyone does not mean you cannot gauge the level of engagement. Click to learn from the experts like Jo Cook, about how you measure engagement.
- Be smiley, happy, energetic, stand up!
People can hear if you are smiling even if they cannot see you. Enjoy the experience
If you and your team could do with some inspiring help in the virtual arena, Krystyna has been developing trainers, facilitators and subject matter experts for many years.