|Unsplash photo by Chris Montgomery|
The current situation has pushed many trainers and conference organizers to leap into the remote/online arena. Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to attend many online training events, webinars, and conferences as well as training opportunities specifically designed for trainers and presenters who have not yet taken the plunge. What have I learned? There are a couple of key items that can make your training, presenting, or learning experience more meaningful.
A video training or conferencing session is one way in which an onsite learning experience can be simulated when physical proximity is not feasible. It is a great way to be able to engage with participants and collect some of that valuable feedback that helps trainers know when their points were not clear or when they have started loosing the attention of the participants. It also provides for more authentic engagement and networking for learners in a remote environment. However, there are some things to be aware of when enabling your video while providing or receiving online training.
- Appearance - We have all seen the silly videos or memes of individuals walking behind a meeting or training participant OR makeshift backdrops that are wrinkled, distracting, or fail to provide proper cover of the items behind the video participant. By now, many of us know to look for a solid wall or properly stretched backdrop that covers the entire area the camera will capture. Additionally, it is always important to make a good impression as prospective collaborators, clients, or bosses may be in attendance. To ensure you are always putting your best foot forward, ensure that you have good lighting and are adequately dressed and groomed for the occasion.
- Etiquette - When participating in an online event, we sometimes get absorbed by the material being presented or get distracted by our environment and forget that our cameras are on and that others can see our eye movements, expressions, gestures, etc. Whether we are the presenter or learner, it is important that we maintain eye contact with the screen/camera and monitor our own image regularly. If you must, remember to not only mute your mic but also turn off your video feed before engaging with someone who is physically in the room.
Attention & Engagement
- Note-taking - I often use note-taking (electronic, hand-written, or through social media posts) as a tool to jot down key information that I may want to retain for future reference. When using social media posts like Tweets to keep my notes I use hashtags (#) to make it easier to refer back to information I shared pertaining to a particular topic or from a specific presentation.
- Chatting - Although not all presenters/platforms allow participants to engage with each other during a presentation, when the feature is enabled it can be a great tool for staying engaged and participating. Sending a quick note to everyone about a thought you had related to the content being presented helps you stay focused and network with fellow participants. You can also comment on the thoughts of other participants. However, a lot of self control and discipline is needed to ensure you do not allow the chat to absorb your attention and distract you from the presentation.
- Questions - Usually online learning platforms have a method for submitting questions to the presenter. Sending a questions or comment about every 4 minutes during the presentation is another great way to stay engaged.