Running a virtual training shouldn’t be stressful. Just like if you were in person there are elements of the meeting; prior to, during and after that will happen. We’ll dive into a couple elements to make sure you are confident and ready for your next virtual presentation.
For any meeting that you plan to lead it is important that you are well prepared. In your planning have your course material scripted out with your dialogue, scheduled times for break out or group discussions, PowerPoint’s, and any other material written or digital visuals that you will need to present.
Aside from what will be happening digitally you’ll also want to think about your presentation space. What room will you be in, will your sound quality be sufficient, what visuals, décor or artwork will you have displayed in the background? Making sure that you have a designated and quiet space that is free from potential distractions will help set the tone and environment for a successful presentation.
Setting your expectations at the beginning of the meeting will help participants understand what you are expecting as far as their level of participation, what you want them to learn, and how you want them to participate. For example you may tell them that you will ask questions, you will expect an answer from all participants, you will allow volunteers to go first but if no one is speaking up you will begin to call out specific names in order to have them participate.
Give a heads up to the participants to come dressed in a thoughtful and professional way. Encourage them to be in an environment that will facilitate learning. Webcams should be utilized and turned on. This should help keep them engaged as they can see you and you can see them.
Think About Presentation Format
Virtual presentations can feel awkward because you’re talking through a screen. However, the same level of connection, participation and insight is still eligible for all to receive. When doing a virtual presentation, you will likely use a PowerPoint or slide deck of some kind to present the material. Be mindful that you aren’t lecturing in a way where you are just reading off the slide. Make sure the slides are engaging, informative, and relates directly to the topic you are presenting. Incorporating times for thinking, group discussion, and breaks will help set the cadence of how the meeting will run. Additionally, be aware of the chat feature on virtual meeting platforms. Some people may not want to interrupt the meeting and may leave a question in the chat. So, be watchful or have someone designated to watch the chat and chime in when questions or comments are said can help keep everyone involved. Also, if your presentation has a lot of information to be covered, you can send over a digital copy of the information prior to the meeting so that it can be printed out and reviewed. The physical copy might have a bit more detail while the presentation you deliver will may have more graphics and visuals to add to what is being discussed
Ultimately participants are to be engaged in the training. Your preparation, mindfulness of training format, and explained expectations can help participants know the level of engagement and participation they need to have.
Plan for Breaks
You’ll want to plan for breaks, especially during long training sessions. If you want to keep the attention of your participants you need to let the information breathe. 5 minute breaks can be a great tool to allow people to move, get a drink of water and come back refreshed and prepared to learn more.
If you want to have connected participation, then ask thoughtful questions. Open ended questions that facilitate thinking and consideration of the presented material will encourage active participation. Don’t be afraid of the silence and allow for thinking to happen. Ask questions throughout your presentation as this will help with engagement and clarify any information if participants have questions
Record Your Presentation
Recording the presentation will allow the agency or group to have an archived resource of the presentation so that they can go back and review the information. Additionally, having a recording of the presentation will allow you to review the presentation and take notes so that you can evaluate your performance.
Have fun with your presentation, allow for creativity and feedback. If you are just a talking head, you will come off robotic and boring. But if you believe in the material you’re presenting and come prepared, people will see your authenticity. Genuine care, attention and connection will resonate with people. Most people will only pull 1 to 2 items that will resonate with them. During the training, keep a log of who and what the participants say. You can then use this information to call back to the specific person and comment in the group and make your points and examples relatable, as you are addressing their needs specifically.