We’ve all attended good online meetings and bad online meetings. What qualities make for a good online meeting? Here is a short list of suggestions on how to run a successful online session.
Use a slide to let people know they’re in the right place
Acknowledge that people have arrived
Open up a “question of the day”. Nothing difficult; just something to engage and focus people while they’re waiting for the “show” to begin
Mute all participants. Yes, we want attendees to ask questions and make comments. No, we don’t want to hear papers rustling or conversations with co-workers who stop by to visit
Explain how to unmute
Orient participants to the interface and tools
To quote the Rolling Stones: “We all need someone we can lean on.” Arrange for someone to work with participants who are having trouble with audio, to read questions from the chat box, to start and stop the recording, etc.
And…in case you haven’t seen the video that depicts common online webinar frustrations as portrayed in an in-person meeting, you can watch the 4 minute video below. Very funny and too true.
Carmen Simon is an executive coach at Rexi Media, a company that teaches presentation skills to professionals. I heard her speak several years ago at the Presentation Summit; an annual conference devoted to better PowerPoint presentations.
In a presentation posted on SlideShare.net, Simon identified 5 reasons why we forget the content of a presentation. See the reasons below and you can also view all of the accompanying PowerPoint slides.
Reason #1: We don’t pay attention to content in the first place.
Reason #2: Some information is too similar to other information.
Reason #3: Content is not processed deeply enough.
Reason #4: Too many presentations are factual and non-participatory.
Reason #5: The list of items presented is too long.
In January, I attended a presentation called Making Interactivity Count by Cammy Bean, Vice President of Learning Design at Kineo. You can find her slide deck on Slideshare and I recommend looking at her other presentations as well. Here are a few of my takeaways from her talk. Though her points were geared to the elearning environment, they are highly applicable to the face-to-face classroom as well.
When designing instruction, we try to incorporate interactivity. But what is interactivity? Interactivity occurs on a spectrum and can be human-to-human, or human-to-thing. Even thinking meaningfully can be interactive. Her four strategies for incorporating interactivity are:
1. Get them reflecting! Have your students practice integrating the content into their own mental schema. Ask a question to get them to stop, think, and apply what they have just learned. For example, what are you going to start doing, stop doing, or continue doing with this new knowledge?
2. Get them feeling! Make your stories or examples about real people or put the learner in the story. Ask them questions about the story or why it matters.
3. Get them acting! Build in worksheets or have students assess what’s going right or wrong with a scenario. For example, if you demonstrate a search that returns zero results, have your students determine why and how to fix it. Ask students what they would do in a given situation.
4. Get them connecting! Have your students talk to each other. Use a survey and share the results.
A few other words of caution from Cammy Bean:
Don’t add interactivity just for the sake of interactivity (or as Cammy put it, Beware the clicky clicky, bling bling!)
Be sure that the interactive elements have context
Don’t allow the interactivity to overwhelm the content
What are some new ways you might add interactivity to your classes?
Here is a collection of 6 tips for practicing a presentation or preparing for a class (with some added commentary by me).
1) Internalize don’t memorize: Knowing the content of your presentation is first and foremost. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use notes to keep you on track and to make sure you cover everything you intended.
2) Present out loud: The first time I did this I felt funny…not anymore. Practicing out loud helps me feel more confident and creates a sense memory…just like Hollywood actors describe.
3) Present standing up: This really makes a difference; make it part of the rehearsal. It’s related to that idea of sense memory again.
4) Present in the clothes you are going to wear: I can’t say that I have done this, but dressing appropriately for the occasion, whether it be a presentation or a snow storm, is important.
5) Time your presentation: I use the stopwatch on my cell phone. Remember to add some minutes to the total of your timed presentation to account for questions. Do the same if you are planning exercises during a class.
6) Visit the location of your presentation: Here at the NTC we travel around the country and teach in computer labs. When possible, we arrange to visit the lab the day before class so there are no big surprises awaiting us.
So, you’re about to give a presentation or lead a training session and like a good instructional designer you have a list of learning objectives that you want to cover. However, reading the list of objectives from a PowerPoint slide can be a dry way to start off. While you have everyone’s attention, make the most of it. I recently read an article called: 10 Ways to Yawn Proof Your eLearning. While many of us do not do eLearning per se, these 2 suggestions can work in a face-to-face setting as well.
Two ways to make learning objectives sound less boring and even possibly fun:
1) Frame your objectives as questions, eg., How can I find citations in PubMed that have been indexed as Review articles? Can’t you hear the crowd now? Woohoo!! We’re going to learn how to find Review articles. I can’t wait!
2) Sell the objective as a benefit and turn it into a one sentence promotion, eg., You’ll learn how to find evidence-based literature for all the requests from year-one medical students.
I’ve been on both sides of the equation. I have wanted to use the fast-forward button to skip to a certain part of a presentation and I imagine that some people have wanted to use the fast-forward button on me. What am I talking about? Keep reading!
In a recent post by Tony Burns on the Speaking about Presenting blog [www.speakingaboutpresenting.com], Tony asks the question: “Does your audience want to fast forward you?” Do people want you to skip to the good stuff, the meat of the information and leave out the rest?
Here are 3 suggestions so people don’t want to press the fast-forward button on your presentation:
Don’t give too much background in the beginning.
Not everything is rocket science. Don’t spend a lot of time on the easy stuff.
People know the problem. They want solutions. Try to give them what they want.
Are there any questions? I’ve said it. You’ve probably said it. As I near the end of a presentation, one of the things on my to do list is to ask the audience if they have any questions. Often, there is silence from the group (hopefully, I’ve already answered their questions), which can leave me feeling a little awkward.
Olivia Mitchell, of the Speaking About Presenting blog, suggests that you ask for questions (one last time) before your final summary. This way, if there are no questions, you don’t end on a flat note. After you address questions, you can do your final summary and wrap-up.
You may have attended a training session that started with an ice breaker (sometimes called an Opener) such as: If you were a candy bar, what kind would you be? OR Tell two truths and one lie about yourself (and then the group tries to figure out the lie). Ice breakers, as the name implies, are meant to break the ice between workshop attendees. Wouldn’t it be nice if the ice breaker was relevant to the content of the training?
Here are a couple of ideas that you can try…
For online training, where you want everyone to talk using either their microphone or a telephone, ask a simple question (ex. In what state were you born?). This will require everyone to test their equipment (microphone or telephone) so they’re ready to participate later.
For in-person training, hang large sheets of paper on the wall (they make poster sized post-it notes), break people into groups and have them think of words that are related to the course content. Group members will meet each other before class officially starts and they’ll remain on task while doing it. If you were teaching a class about PubMed for example, B stands for Boolean Operators.