I’ve been running teaching workshops over video conference for years: for me it just works.
I get to train people from all over the world. They get to join conveniently from their home or office, and to practice in real life between weekly calls (rather than being jazzed when they leave an immersion event, and floundering when it comes to implementation).
Last night was Call 4 of a series I’m doing with Olaf Lewitz for Agile Coaches. It was an absolute joy to hear the participants’ real-life stories of using Clean Language questions to make a difference in their work with software development teams (and their bosses), and to be able to tailor the class to build on that success.
And, teaching over live video is still quite unusual. I think this is mainly because trainers find it challenging! They’re often natural people-people, and they especially miss the informal parts of classroom activity. And like the rest of us, they’ll have seen plenty of dreadful online teaching in the form of recorded voice-over-slides.
So, what are my five top tips for training over online video?
1 Don’t talk down to your group. “Chalk and talk” went out with the ark in meatspace! Make sure your learners are able to be seen and heard, on an equal footing to yourself. That’s one of the reasons I always use Zoom: get participants to switch to “Gallery view” for a “Brady bunch” line-up of whoever’s on the call.
2 Make it very interactive. One large online training organisation insists its trainers ask a question of the group every 90 seconds. That might be a bit excessive, but it gives an interesting target. You may want to call on individuals to speak, rather than throwing the floor open, to avoid uncertainty and support people on slower internet connections.
3 Use lots of small-group activities, just as you would in a physical classroom, so that people stay fully engaged. Again, Zoom has the edge because it makes breakout rooms straightforward.
4 Use visual aids. I’m not strong on this one, apart from sharing the odd Powerpoint slide. But my colleague Matthew Hudson has recently been showing me how it’s possible to draw using an app, just like drawing on a blackboard – and how it made a huge difference to the group’s grasp of complex topics. More or less any visuals will help to keep the group’s focus.
5 Do whatever you can to replace the informal parts of the classroom experience. Get people joining the call a few minutes early, to chat and get to know one another. Connect people between calls using a social media group. Share your own personal stories and challenges to encourage others to do the same. And allow yourself to connect with your learners as real people.
Hope that helps! What have I missed? Please comment below.