Thursday, April 10, 2014

Virtual Program Tips - Teleclasses, Webinars, Virtual Group Coaching

I've spoken to a lot of coaches and other professionals who  saw significant disruption in their work this past winter winter due to weather. For the last few years, I've intentionally moved a lot of my programming during what I am calling the winter season (mid-November to March for me in Toronto) to the virtual domain. I think many who went through the angst of this year's winter and travel woes will be making different  plans for next year. Will you be doing something different next year? Is now the time to start putting systems in place, and experience under your belt?

For those that are considering moving to more virtual programming (for whatever reasons) here is what I wrote about Five Virtual Program No-Nos almost three years ago back in 2011:

"With travel plans both sides of the Atlantic being stymied over the holiday season due to weather, many businesses, and individuals, are re-evaluating whether they really do want to, or need to, fly and/or travel.

Earlier this week, I identified increased virtualization of learning programs, including group coaching as a possible trend for 2011.

If you are a coach or trainer looking to launch your own group program by phone or web this year be sure to avoid the following virtual program No Nos:

1. Not having a back up plan in the event of technology failure: Technology glitches usually happen when least expected. Ensure that you have a back-up bridgeline ready, and a fast way to communicate with registrants if needed. Depending on your call size, call type (webinar/teleclass vs. group coaching) and your comfort levels, you may consider having a support person take care of the technology issues during your call.

2. Not working out a timeline for the call and sense of where you can "accordion": Having a sense of how the call may play out time-wise, and thinking through what areas can be shortened if time is running out, or lengthened if you are moving too quickly, is an important consideration for all group coaching programs, especially in the virtual domain.

3. Not doing a dry run - The first time you run a program, it will be important to do a dry run. Your dry run may be as simple as a mental "rehearsal" in your head, or as detailed as having a live pilot group move through the program, providing feedback and enabling you to see real-time how your program design, exercises and materials stand up.

4. Assuming everyone is engaged and focused - This assumption can be the kiss of death for a virtual program. It is critical to engage your groups throughout the call. Wandering eyes, and minds, are very common in the virtual domain. A general rule of thumb is to change the pace every 5-7 minutes in the virtual domain, whether you ask the group a question, call for a response, or have people write something down. Another important technique to support the focus is to regularly provide an overview of the process - where you are, what's been covered/discussed, and what's coming up next.

5. Not recognizing the different learning needs on the calls - It is very likely that within any group you are working with you will have a mix of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners. Avoid the trap of thinking that everyone attending your virtual program is an auditory learner. What activities can you incorporate, or changes you can make as a facilitator, to meet the different learning needs of the group (i.e. visual learners, kinesthetic learners)? For different strategies, you may wish to check out a recent blog post I did on engaging your groups.

Next time you are running a virtual program, whether pure group coaching, or a webinar or teleclass, be proactive to avoid these No Nos."

These five areas haven't really changed in the last three years. They are still some of the top considerations I keep in min when designing and implementing group and team coaching work, webinars and other teleclasses.

What other tips would you recommend to those adding Virtual programming to their mix? For those with a copy of my first book, Effective Group Coaching, you will want to refer to chapter 6 - Powerful Delivery Options - In-person or Virtual for more tips, and if you have my latest book From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching, you will want to check out  Chapter 7 - Virtual Design and Delivery.

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, MES, CPT, PCC
Group Coaching Essentials | Potentials Realized

Upcoming programs include:
Mentor Coaching Group for ACC Renewals and ACC/PCC portfolio - Fridays 9-10am Eastern  April 25 to Late July.
Group Coaching Essentials (6.75 CCes) by phone: Fridays 10 - 11:15 am Eastern: May 9, 16, 23, 30 and June 13
Group and Team Coaching Intensive (15 CCEs) - Two days in person Huntsville, Muskoka, CANADA July 10-11. Early Bird rate on now! More info on the intensive at

1 comment:

Corporate Team Coaching said...

Group coaching can also be positioned as a training follow-on, supporting learners to with the transfer and application of their learning, creating an on-going accountability structure. Group coaching is an on-going conversation, which supports change over time.

Corporate Team Coaching