Just last week, two things happened to make me realize that even though Covid-related lockdowns began in March 2020 (leading to a complete shift from in-person to virtual meetings and training sessions), there are a lot of people who still aren’t quite sure how best to leverage virtual technologies to engage people.
First, someone who I used to co-facilitate training with reached out and asked if I had a lesson plan template and some best practices for how to engage people virtually. Second, there was an article in the Washington Post last week entitled: Workers are putting on pants to return to the office only to be on Zoom all day.
Know Your Platform
My first piece of advice is to make sure you are familiar with your virtual meeting platform and the variety of features available to you that can help you engage your learners. Earlier this year, my colleague Lauren Wescott wrote a series of quick reference guides that can help you grow familiar with the most common virtual platforms including Zoom, Adobe Connect, WebEx, GoToMeeting, GoToTraining, Microsoft Teams and Blackboard Collaborate.
Define Your Learning Objectives
A second piece of advice I have is to make sure you know exactly what you want people to be able to do new or differently or better as a result of your virtual meeting. If you only have 30 minutes, it’s unlikely that someone will be able to master your content. They may, however, be able to make a list of key concepts, explain particular terms or definitions, or compare and contrast the impact of various choices they can make on the job.
The tricky part is determining how exactly you’d like your participants to show you they’re able to do those things. Polling features can be helpful in getting people engaged, but is that the best virtual feature to use to have people demonstrate that they can explain certain concepts? Or should you either use the chat feature or simply have people take themselves off mute and share some thoughts?
When you are specific with your learning objectives, you can be specific with your engagement strategies and you’ll be able to choose the most appropriate virtual platform feature(s) to aid in engaging your learners.
The final piece of advice, which is actually plagiarized from education pioneer Jane Vella, is that people learn best through dialogue. Dialogue education is an education concept rooted in 12 principles that can help encourage dialogue, engagement and an environment conducive to learning – all of which are essential to keeping people focused on your virtual meetings.
Of course, if you’re simply looking for activities, check out my friend, Kassy Laborie’s book, Interact & Engage: 50+ Activities for Virtual Training, Meetings, and Webinars.
Need some help putting together your next training program? Whether you’re putting together an instructor-led training that will be delivered in-person or virtually, or if you’re simply looking for some help putting together an elearning module, drop us a line we’d be happy to talk with you and help you find the best way to build a training program that will be engaging and lead to change!