Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Virtual Facilitation Tips for Teleclasses and Group Coaching

Whether you are running a teleclass, teleseminar or group coaching program by phone, facilitation techniques may be different than those needed in the in person environment. For the past decade a bulk of my work has been bringing together groups, and teams, in the phone based environment.

Here are four tips to keep in mind when facilitating your next program in the phone based arena:

Engage your audience every 5-7 minutes. Whether it is posing a question for people to consider, having group members write something down, breaking groups into virtual breakout rooms, or asking for audience input, creating a switch every 5-7 minutes is important in the phone based domain. While best practice research points to 5-7 minutes as being optimum for groups, take the pulse at the end of each and every call to see what the pace of the call has been like for them and adjust accordingly.

Less is more – I often talk about how important less is more in creating more powerful teleclasses, workshops and group coaching programs. We often have the bias to throw way too much content into our programs. As you start looking at design of your next phone session be clear with yourself about what is the need to have versus the nice to have in terms of content, exercises and other tools. Consider what sections can be elongated if you are moving too quickly, and which can be shortened (or dropped) if you are moving too slowly.

Pre and Post Work – I usually opt for more meaty pre and post work when delivering programs by phone, leaving time for our calls to focus on sharing and processing of what people have read or discovered. Some ideas for pre- and post-work you may want to consider could include journaling, reading lists/assignments, assessments, checklists, coaching exercises.

Ask Yourself: What pre work would benefit your next group session? What follow up post-work/homework or field work would help to lock in the learning/insights of the call?

Create opportunities for reflection – Don’t be afraid to have pauses or silence throughout a phone based program for people to reflect and write out their thoughts or insights. If you choose to do this, depending on the type of program and size of your group, you may opt to provide music in the background, or you may want to know how to mute to avoid the background sounds such as fingers taping on keyboard, paper shuffling etc.

What tips would you provide to facilitators/coaches/trainers new to leading group programs in the phone based environment?

Warm regards


Jennifer Britton, MES, PCC

Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)

Host of the Group Coaching Essentials program and the Group Coaching Intensive

Email: info{at}potentialsrealized{dot}com

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