As I recover from a multiple consecutive days of Executive Education online training, which is exhausting both for the trainer and the audience, here is what I learnt along the way:
Rehearse harder than usual
Keeping the audience alive while delivering concepts or tools can be challenging. Spend time before to make sure that you simplify even more your content and your visuals than usual. Rehearse the key points you want to get across, diversify the intonations of your voice and slow down your speech. This is closer to a theatrical performance than to a business presentation.
Involve the audience straight away
A nice trick provided by a coach to ensure early engagement from the audience was to ask them to display a personal item and explain the personal or professional linkage. Done on a regular basis after breaks, it quickly helped to break the ice. Another useful tip was to have regular informal networking sessions on various topics after the official teaching hours.
Don’t let technology be your master
While rehearsals will ensure that lighting, cameras and content displays are enhancing the audience experience, you should focus on the human side, which is your main asset as in a « physical » training. Don’t look at yourself on the screen: it both feels awkward and you lose concentration. Be natural, look at the participants in turn, change position after a session: for instance switch between stand-up position, high stool, roundtable format – in short don’t remain seated behind your screen.
Do short sessions
You cannot deliver important content for hours and your audience will not have the mental energy to assimilate it either so the best is to organise sessions of 90 minutes maximum. These sessions should also be broken down in 15-20 minute slots after which discussion and Q&A should occur. Breaks are necessary after each session.
Organise long enough virtual break-outs
The good news about virtual meetings or training is that the technological platforms allow you to set up break-out groups of any size, randomly or organised in advance. Take full advantage of this feature to enhance group engagement as well as practice/feedback on your content. Make sure these virtual beak-outs last long enough for real exchange between the participants and assign a different reporting person each time as some people will naturally take the lead otherwise.