To Script or Not to Script? That is the Question.

May 27, 2015 12:37 by Dana Peters

Last week, we had a call with a new client to discuss the concept of developing a fully scripted facilitator guide vs. a simple facilitator outline documenting the general plan for each content section with related facilitator talking points (what I would call a semi-scripted guide). This is a topic that comes up regularly with clients new to the virtual learning space.

We have several pieces of advice to share when it comes to whether or not your sessions should be fully scripted or not.

First let’s take a look at the pros and cons of scripting out your session, and then we will dig into a few of the specifics.

PROS of Scripting

  • Multiple facilitators and producers can pick up the guide and have a clear concept of class objectives, what should happen, and when.
  • Facilitators and producers are able to deliver sessions seamlessly without having to meet extensively beforehand.
  • Allows for easy mass delivery of sessions over a long period of time, utilizing a large delivery team.
  • Helps keep timing of the course on track.
  • Enables the delivery of consistent content to all participants regardless of when they take the class and who facilitates it.
  • Provides support for facilitators who may be less confident or nervous.

CONS of Scripting

  • Less prepared/experienced facilitators may rely too much on the script, not enhancing the content with their own experiences, stories, and examples.
  • Can lead to monotonous talking; drives participants to multi-task or be inattentive.
  • Can create a road-block for facilitators and producers to operate in the moment, and respond to immediate needs of learners.
  • Can lead to the atmosphere of the session feeling more mechanical and robotic than natural and organic.
  • Because of the level of detail, scripting involves more updating and maintenance to stay current and accurate as the class/lessons evolve.

As you can see, there are several things to consider when deciding whether or not to fully script out your virtual instructor-led course.

Think about this checklist as it relates to your facilitators.

  • Who will be delivering the session on a regular basis?
  • How much time will they have to prepare, or how familiar are they with the content?
  • How comfortable are they presenting virtually?
  • Are they experienced facilitators in general?
  • Is this a mass delivery of sessions over a long period of time?
  • Will you be drawing on a pool of facilitators and producers, with any combination being paired up to deliver a session?

All of these items will come into play.

A scripted facilitator guide provides opportunity for multiple presenters in multiple regions to effectively deliver consistent course content to every participant taking the class.

There’s no confusion on what should be covered in the course, though a top-notch facilitator will insert relevant and powerful examples that will undoubtedly be different.

Having a scripted outline can also help instructors stay on track, and may even help if the presenter has any feelings of nervousness. A scripted approach also allows any instructor to pick up the materials, and deliver the class with a clear concept of objectives and expected outcomes, provided they have ample time to prepare.

The key to using a scripted facilitator guide for your virtual instructor-led training classes is preparation.

Less prepared facilitators will rely too much on the script, leading to long and even monotonous reading from an instructor to the class. This doesn’t work in person, and it certainly doesn’t work in a virtual environment. Scripted speech, void of interactive and personal examples from an instructor, can and often does, lead to inattentiveness and attempts to multi-task from learners.

Even prepared facilitators can get caught up in the script. In some cases, facilitators and producers will get so caught up in staying on track with the script that they miss out on opportunities to really engage learners in the moment. Experience and practice will help.

Take a minute to consider the pros and cons. Is there anything else you would add to either list? How do they apply to your learning environment, your facilitators, and your participants? We’d love your feedback.

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