Hello? Is This Thing On? Finding Your Energy in the Virtual Classroom.

May 17, 2016 10:00 by Dana Peters

One of the greatest challenges for many facilitators transitioning from face-to-face courses to virtual ones, is finding the energy they need from the virtual space.

Good face-to-face presenters thrive on the energy and reactions they get from their learners: smiles, laughs, head nods, or even confused looks - all help the facilitator respond, react, and move forward accordingly.

In most virtual instructor-led trainings those cues disappear.

Some facilitators find this change difficult, and many even describe it as plain uncomfortable.

We’re here to help you through it.

There are ways to draw energy from your virtual audiences, and for us, it starts with personalization.

Personalization is a great way to draw energy from your virtual session.

Get to know your learners

Keep the class sizes small and intimate so it provides you with more opportunity to really get to know who is participating.

Assigning pre-work for the session will lend insight into the learners’ personalities as well as what they’d like to gain by attending the session. This will feed you ways to connect with the learners when you meet in class.
Use your learners’ names as often as feels natural. This will help establish a connection and add to the personalization.

Knowing your learners will help you connect with them on a deeper level, a level that should foster some energy during the course.

Use the tools

Most virtual environments provide tools and techniques for learners to interact in ways that mimic a face-to-face environment. Encourage learners to utilize annotation tools to agree, disagree, or even applaud and laugh during discussions. While not quite the same as emotions in a traditional in-person classroom, these tools can help add to the energetic vibe of the course- for you, as well as for the other learners.

Encourage use of the chat function throughout the session to share any thoughts that come to mind - not just a place to respond when you ask a question or for them to post their questions. Typing a welcome message and other casual dialogue starters will help encourage this. You may need to enlist your host to help you with this.

Whenever possible leave phone lines open and encourage open dialogue. Again this works best if the class size is somewhat smaller.

Take advantage of video features whenever possible (and not cumbersome), and encourage learners to interact and get involved with the discussion.

Many virtual environments offer opportunities for small group or breakout discussions. Utilize those small group discussions as much as possible, and treat them as an opportunity to gather energy by listening in, and “walking around” to the different groups. Hearing the verbal discussions, and seeing the small group work come together should give you some energy, and points to tie back to the course instruction.

As you can see, the virtual environment offers plenty of opportunity to energize you as a facilitator.

Your environment

There are two things that I have on my desk when I facilitate virtually; a mirror and pictures of smiling family and friends. The mirror keeps me in check on what my body language and facial expressions are like. Since I know my energy comes through in my voice, I need to see that my energy is up when I look at myself. The pictures give me someone to talk to rather than feeling like I am talking into cyber space.

While you may not have the facial expressions and strict verbal cues you’re used to from a face-to-face session; you can have lively discussion, robust collaboration, and even more energy if you know where to find it.

Where do you find energy in your virtual training presentations?

 

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