As learning and development professionals continue to adapt to the new realities of the workplace in 2020, many trainings and workshops are now being conducted online. Although it is impossible to fully replicate the experience of an in-person meeting, there are best practices you can utilize to maximize the impact of your online learning events. Here are 10 principles to remember as you prepare for your next presentation.
1. Deliver Your Performance with Video
Presenting with video is no longer optional; it is now standard practice when it comes to virtual meetings. Turn on your webcam for each presentation, this helps to personalize the conversation and keeps all participants engaged throughout the entire event. In most cases, video presentations are more effective than audio-only presentations because attendees can see the facial expressions and non-verbal cues of the presenter. Be sure to sit close to your webcam to help simulate the experience of an in-person meeting.
2. Create a Distraction-Free Environment
Prior to your live event, ensure there are no obstacles in your camera’s line of sight that will distract attendees. Put your cell phone in silent mode, and turn off your computer notification alerts. This thinking applies to your computer screen as well. If you plan on sharing your screen with participants, be sure to suppress all popup notifications (e.g. email, text messages, calendar reminders) when presenting. You can do this quickly by enabling Do Not Disturb on a Mac or turning on Quiet Hours from the Action Center icon on your toolbar.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Delivering an outstanding live performance requires dedication and commitment. In order to perform to the best of your ability, you will need to be disciplined with your approach to practice. Being well-rehearsed and confident with your material is essential in order to make a great and lasting impression on a cohort.
As the saying goes, failing to prepare is preparing to fail! An excellent way to improve the quality of your live event is to record yourself presenting and watch the recording. This will help you identify any weaknesses in your performance and give you the opportunity to improve. Performing to a high standard does require discipline, but remember that practice can be a fun and enjoyable process!
4. Select the Right Equipment for the Task
Your choice of equipment will help to form your overall identity while performing during your live event. It is important to know how to properly set up each piece of equipment. An otherwise great performance can be ruined by cracking audio or choppy video. To ensure Live Events run smoothly here at CorpU, we created a video “Combat Kit” with recommendations for audio and video equipment to aid in this process.
5. Trust in Your Own Ability
Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes. This sounds conflicting, but it’s only in a relaxed state without expectations and judgment that you will truly engage in peak performance. Regimented, consistent practice will allow you to perform to a high standard consistently.
6. Show Up Early to Warm Up
An effective warm-up routine is crucial in order to deliver consistent and fluid live event performances. Arrive early to your live event to give yourself time to organize, check any technical video and audio setup details, and address any last-minute issues that may arise. This will help to ensure you deliver a great performance for both the live audience and those who will watch the recording asynchronously alike.
7. Break the Ice and Encourage Informal Conversations
Begin every live event with an icebreaker to encourage attendees to engage with you, connect with other attendees, and to feel comfortable speaking up and engaging in dialogue digitally. Icebreakers set the tone for your event, boost participant engagement and help people to network with other attendees. It’s a valuable first impression you want to make and the first opportunity you will have to create a welcoming and inclusive learning experience.
8. Have Contingencies in Place to Avoid Unplanned Silence
Unexpected dead air makes for an awkward scene during a live event, and there’s no need for it. Come prepared for as many contingencies as possible. Plan for the worst-case scenarios (participant audio drops, no questions or feedback from the audience, etc.). Knowing what you’d do in the event these things happen will keep you level-headed when they actually do and being level-headed will help you avoid the dreaded dead air disaster.
9. Encourage Active Learning Within the Group
Learning is an active process and no two participants learn the same way. Respect the diverse talents and ways participants learn. Participants will have a more rewarding and valuable experience if your live event creates a safe environment for expressing diverse points of view, encouraging debate, group problem solving, and the sharing of new ideas. Become comfortable and proficient using video, audio, polls, chat, breakout rooms and whiteboard tools to help increase the level of interactivity of your live event. Switch modes often during your live event to keep the audience engaged and active.
10. Be Inclusive and Facilitate Dialogue
Live Events can often be dominated by one or two people. To avoid this, practice the following strategies so everyone can participate in a meaningful way and everyone’s opinions are heard:
- Proactively ask people by name for their opinion and be aware that some people are less assertive, have softer voices or don’t feel comfortable fighting for airtime. However, they will happily speak up if you offer them the opportunity to do so.
- Share the agenda and documents in advance and asked participants to prepare their ideas. This reduces the risk of participants feeling they have been put on the spot.
- Ask participants to use the chat feature to let the group know they have something to share, when they do raise their virtual hand give them the opportunity to speak.
- Regularly stop and ask the participants if they can hear, can follow the dialogue and if they want to provide any contributions.
- Thank each participant who provides feedback or shares a story by name. Edify their comments and ask others if they anything they have had similar experiences.
- Listen to and explore everyone’s ideas equally.
- Allow time for explanations, for people to process information and to think about their response.