I have spoken to a number of companies recently with the following issue. They have delivered training and workshops face to face and now being asked to deliver the materials virtually. They are under pressure to simply place materials into a virtual delivery platform and get the job done.
I do not recommend this simplistic approach. The danger is that without considering the delivery medium, and preparing the trainer for virtual delivery, the output will not be robust in quality. Some suggestions, when converting and delivering:
- Break up virtual sessions into meaningful chunks. A typical 9:00-12:00 delivery should become: Session 1: 9:00-10:00 (then have a ten-minute break). Session 2: 10:10-11:00 etc. If you put yourself in the shoes of the attendee, then they can only remain concentrated for a short period, so break the sessions down.
- For each session, plan the materials into the three D’s: Deliver, Discuss, Do.
- Deliver: The presenter delivers materials but ensure that this is not monologue delivery. It is hard to do continuously and is not engaging.
- Wherever possible, discuss. Engage attendees with discussion points; use Socratic techniques to elicit answers (What do you think is happening here? What issues could this present?)
- Do. Get attendees to work together on some key learning point. Most virtual platforms have some kind of collaboration zone, where attendees can be broken into groups to work and apply the materials to some issue. A form of virtual flip-chart.
- Start on time and always end on time. Ensure that you do not have too much materials, and only enough for the time selected. If you go over your time limit, your attendees, will start zoning out. I use the formula of one slide equates to three minutes of delivery.
- Make the materials as visual as you can. Avoid death by bullet point.
- To assist in getting the attendee to focus on key learning points, start highlighting key lines, draw concepts using the available annotation tools.
- Use Video to deliver alongside any materials. Attendees may or may not use their video but use yours. You will find this hard, if you are not use to it, but keep looking into the camera and smile. Encourage attendees to use their video. Some brave sole may put theirs on, and in turn others may follow. Now when you want to ensure a learning point has been understood, you can see it in their faces, and not ask them to click unmute and say they do. Video helps to create better engagement.
For those are delivering, some suggestions:
- Make sure your room is very well lit. You may need additional lighting, especially when delivering from home.
- Dress appropriately, depending on your audience.
- Make sure that the view behind you is “neutral” look to ensure that there are no distractions for the attendee. Microsoft Teams has a great blur feature that focuses on the presenter and not the background.
- A good headphone is worthy investment. This will ensure good audio. Additionally, a good webcam will ensure that the picture is clear.
- Test all equipment out before starting. Do not log in ten minutes before. Test the systems, the materials, the activities well in advance.
- Ensure you have plenty of water near to you. Keep hydrated throughout your delivery.
- If you are delivering from home, consider all external sounds. If your window open? What happens when there is a delivery during delivery?
- If you normally use wifi, connect your machine to your internet hub using a good ethernet cable.
- When you start your session. A good opening is essential. Tell them what to expect in terms of the materials and the learning points. This is your hook. Once hooked, now walk attendees through the system you are using so that they now the basics of how to speak, contribute to chat etc.
- Keep your phone on silent and preferably away from you, so that you have no distractions when delivering.
When I initially delivered virtually it was new and challenging. It is the norm now for me, but has taken time to shape the way I deliver and develop the necessary techniques to create a successful event.