Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Three Activities for Your Virtual Programs - Calls, Group/Team Coaching, Webinars

I've been doing a lot of speaking lately about creating more effective virtual learning events, in lead
up to the launch of my newest book which will be out this summer. As many of you know, for the better part of the last three decades my work has been virtual in one way or another. Whether I was leading virtual teams across countries or regions of the world, of running a series of teleclasses, webinars and virtual group and team coaching, I love working virtually!

Many coaches and other professionals struggle in gaining the confidence to lead their own virtual programs and I'm on a mission this year to support even more coaches in designing their own virtual programs - not just group coaching, but also webinars and other virtual programs.

Having a wide variety of tools on hand can mean the difference between a drab and engaging call. Today's post includes three quick activities you might consider bringing in to boost a team call, or to energize a longer virtual call.

#1 - Map it - Making things more visual is key to fostering engagement in the virtual domain. If you are still leading on a phone only environment, ask people to bring a pen and paper. If you are on a platform like zoom or WebEx make sure group members are comfortable with using annotation tools like pens etc.

In map it, you can have a couple of iterations. The instructions are to ask the group to draw a map of their learning journey so far. If this is done on the phone environment it may be easier to have each person doing this individually, and then verbally having them share it afterwards with others. If you are all on a screensharing have people draw on the screen what they see as the journey. Depending on the size of group, it may become a more collaborative exercise, or if you are working to develop communication or leadership skills you may assign a "peer facilitator" to provide instructions.

#2 - My desk - Photo Spark - Many of you may know how much I enjoy integrating photographs into the work that I do with groups. In the virtual domain it can be worthwhile to develop or purchase a series of photos which you can use and share with your virtual groups. One quick activity is to put 2-3 photos up on the whiteboard with a question related to the topic you are discussing. Perhaps it's a webinar on leadership styles. You might put up 4 photos of desktops - one messy, one Spartan, one really organized, and one a briefcase. Ask the group members to select the photo which is most representative of their desk and what they like about the work space they have created for themselves,. Get people to write their name on the photo so you can break them into breakout groups. Have them spend 4-5 min with those who selected the same photo, sharing what they enjoy about their workplace. this is a quick activity to create some connection and break the ice.

#3 - Finding the common theme. We know that teams that are diverse in skills, yet have a common bond are often most effective. If people do not feel connected it is more likely that they will disengage. This is a good activity for a virtual team who might be newly forming, or have been together for a while. Set the context for the activity that the task is to find the common theme. You may choose a generic topic like - what's my favorite food, pastime, place to visit.
Ask team members to take some time to find their common ground around the topic you have chosen.
So, for example it's about finding a common thread around what everyone on the team loves about work/food/vacation.  Let the team go and see what they come up with! I've had groups find the common theme in just a few minutes, and others needing much more time.

What quick energizers do you like to use in the virtual domain?

Have a great start to your week,

Jennifer Britton
Potentials Realized/GroupCoachingEssentials
Email: info (at)potentialsrealized (dot)com

About Us: Jennifer Britton is the author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013) . Since 2004 she and her company, Potentials Realized, have supported thousands of coaches, trainers, and leaders, design and create more impactful team and group programs (in-person and virtual). Jennifer offers customized programs for organizations, as well as virtual public training programs. Our areas of specialty are team development, leadership and coaching. Our 2017 programming starts during the week of January  9th and will include: The Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar (8.75 CCEs), The Advanced Group and Team Coaching Practicum (10 CCEs), and the Mentor Coaching Group for ACC/PCC portfolio routes. The Learning Lab and Design Studio Group for Coaches who want to build their business and expand their group and team programs meets twice a month on Fridays 845am Eastern.