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So how do we create engaging virtual programming? What are some tips you can consider in the design and implementation of your next webinar, teleclass and/or virtual group coaching? Consider these:
Change the pace regularly - Many of you have heard me talk about the improtance of chainging the pace every 7-10 minutes in face to face programs, in virtual progams, particulaly those that aren't as interactive (i.e. webinars) that time frame gets shortened significantly, even down to 1-3 minutes. Consider what's going to keep people focused, engaged and out of the "Death by Conference Call" Mode
Don't be afraid to engage and experiment with what you would normally do within a face to face environment. A lot of coaches, trainers and facilitators, are hesitant to bring some of their face-to-face approaches (with modification) into the virtual realm. Having facilitated virtually for more than a decade I know that group members are tired of the same "talking head" and lack of interaction. They want something different. Think through how you can adapt some of your favorite face to face activities for the virtual realm. It might involve some pre-work or preparation, breakouts or more time.
Consider the level of engagement you want and then the best approach - Webinars, telsclasses and virtual group coaching can vary along the lines of engagement, content and "who's driving the bus" (the faciltator or the participants). Consider the right vehicle.
- Are you wanting to pass on a lot of content and don't want interaction. If so, a webinar might be the best way to go.
- Are you wanting to pass on a lot of content and want interaction - a webinar incorporating breakouts, chats and even video streaming might be the best route
- Is this a program to support group members towards their goals, self-discovery, planning and action? If so, a group coaching approach which leverages breakouts, large and small group activities will be the best approach
Small is beautiful - In my book, Effective Group Coaching, I write that small is beautiful. Think through how many people you really want to support in a virtual program. What is going to work well for you, and their learning? Are you looking to create an interactive, intimate environment where people can get to know each other, connect and trust each other, OR are you looking to get the word out to a mass audience where it's more about the message not connection.
Again, consider the platform and type of virtual learning process (webinar, teleclass, streaming - live or asynchronous, coaching etc) which will influence your ceilings and range of number of participants.
Being clear with expectations around engagement and numbers is key in promoting your work.
Always have a back-up: It's highly likely that something technical may go wrong within the virtual realm. Contingency planning is key. Always have a back up - this may entail having another platform, having a support team around you, and thinking through the series of What Ifs! Nothing is more frustrating for participants (and will take away from the WOW) if they are struggling with technology and feeling cut off.
I'll be going much more in-depth into virtual programming tips (design, marketing, and implementation) in the upcoming Virtual Facilitation Skills Intensive program. In addition to building to your virtual facilitation and design toolkit, you'll also get several opportunities to practice your skills in the virtual domain (and get feedback from others). We'll be meeting online Thursdays from 12- 3 pm Eastern in this 15 hour Virtual Train-the-Trainer on February 4, 11, 18, 25, and March 3rd. We'll be using platforms ranging from bridgelines, to skype, to zoom, join-me, and webinar platforms to give you experience and more confidence on these different platforms. Cost: $950 US. Save 15% when you register with a colleague. Click here for more information and to reserve your spot (5 spots open).
I'd also invite you to see what I've written about virtual programming over the last decade here at the blog. There's still lots left to cover!
Have a great start to your week,
Jennifer Britton, MES, PCC, CPCC, CPT
GroupCoachingEssentials.com | Potentials Realized
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2009) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Email me with any questions you have at info(at)potentialsrealized(dot)com
Upcoming programs include:
The Learning Lab and Design Studio - starting on Fridays later this month: Are you looking for a content rich, community which will support you in learning and experimenting with design, implementation and marketing of group and team programs. The Learning Lab and Design Studio offers coaches, trainers, facilitators and other professionals a place for learning, connection, and accountability. Participate in two group coaching calls a month, a Facilitation Lab monthlyDownload a brochure here or learn more and reserve your spot.
, plus one individual coaching session. Also benefit from dozens of resources aimed at supporting you to do your best work with groups and teams whether you are leading webinars, retreats, teleclasses, group or team coaching. Join us for the year, six months or monthly.
The 38 hour ICF ACSTH approved Group and Team Coaching Training program through Impact Coaching Association starts early February (Tuesdays 12 - 3 pm ET) online.
Virtual Facilitation Skills Intensive - 15 hour train-the-trainer for those wanting to build their virtual toolbox, learn more about best practices in virtual facilitation (for webinars, virtual retreats, teleclasses, telseminars, group and team coaching) and acquire practice and feedback in sharpening their skills. Thursdays 12 - 3 pm Eastern/New York. Click here to learn more and reserve your spot.