By Kizzy M. Dominguez, Ph.D.
A few months ago, I listened as Kassy LaBorie presented at a training conference. She began her session by handing a training participant a sealed envelope containing a secret. As I waited in anticipation to learn the contents of the envelope, I knew I needed to interview her.
As co-author of Interact and Engage! 50+ Activities for Virtual Training, Meetings, and Webinars, Kassy has an incredible passion for teaching people how to engage others in a virtual world. From teaching on topics from how to lead webinars and facilitate virtual training to how to navigate meetings and webinars, Kassy has made it her life goal to bring a human element to virtual interactions. Luckily, she agreed to be interviewed and shared these three tips on making the virtual personal:
Imagine you are going to an in-person class. You understand how to get there, find a seat, sit down, and interact with the instructor. This may all seem obvious, as we have been learning these things since we were children. When it comes to the virtual world, however, many people have never been taught how to do these things on-line. Instructors may send people a link, write, “hey, see you there,” and then wonder why people aren’t interacting.
Tip 1: Prep the Participants! Before any meaningful communication can happen, make sure that everyone understands their virtual environment by holding a pre-session that helps people learn how to be there, use the chat features, use the whiteboard, and deal with distractions.
Lecturing is about you and the world according to you. It seems like technology almost forces a lecture format, but few people enjoy learning just through lecture. In that format, many people aren’t even listening. People learn best when a class becomes personal to them and they can take something away from it.
Tip 2: Lose the Lecture! Design training almost entirely around what the participants will do. The focus must be on figuring out how the content can inspire people, rather than just on the content itself. People will take more away from a lesson if they are inspired to do something with it.
If key points must be made on slides, try letting people read the points themselves rather than read those points to them. Ask people questions afterward: What do you think? Which points challenge you? Which do you not understand? How do you disagree with them?
The biggest hurdle in successful virtual interactions is the separateness between the people in them. These interactions feel colder and more impersonal than in-person meetings.
Tip 3: Interact and Engage! No matter the setting, always interact and engage with people. The key is to make it personal by allowing people to think about the topic in ways that they are going to use what they have learned. Inspire people to action! It is less about being virtual and more about thinking about other people and what is going to be helpful to them.
We’ve arranged for readers to get a free chapter of Kassy’s book. Check it out here.