If you regularly deliver training courses, the last five months will have brought a massive change. You are no longer in the same room as your audience where everyone can interact and move around. I thought I’d share with you my recent experiences and give you some tips on how to make online training successful.
Since the late 1990’s I have been delivering a half-day CPD course on Voice Protection and Projection for swimming teachers throughout the UK. In July I was approached by two separate professional organisations to deliver a one-hour session on voice to prepare teachers for the reopening of pools. There would be 50 minutes of training and 10 minutes of Q & A.
I decided against using slides as I preferred to keep the interest of my audience by using my own energy and engagement with as much interaction and involvement as possible.
The sessions were hosted by the organisations and the first took place on Zoom where I discovered I had 500 attendees! So I chose to view the front page showing the first 25 people, which Included myself and the host.
I like to see my audience so that I can gauge their engagement (or lack of!) and get some feedback from their facial expressions and body-language. Mind you, as this was a free workshop for them (although I was paid), it also meant I could see blank squares when some chose to leave the session – that’s life! The host monitored questions, which were submitted via the chat box, and at the end facilitated the Q & A’s which threw up some interesting questions.
Within a week I was delivering the identical course for the other organisation. I thought it would be a similar experience, but it couldn’t have been more different. The platform being used encrypted the details of the attendees so I couldn’t see any of them! This was very disconcerting as I was faced with a screen full of…..me! With an invisible audience of 180, I had to get on with it so I simply imagined them. Unfortunately, I’m sure my timing was affected. If you can’t see how much people are reacting to the practical exercises, you don’t know when they are ready to move on! I just had to use my instinct as a trainer. The questions at the end seemed to show understanding and engagement.
As a post-script to this, the organisation gave me great feedback and said they were changing to Zoom for future events – thank goodness!
So when you are training remotely consider using these tips:
1) Check your light and sound. Generally, your computer will amplify you sufficiently but you may need a clip-on microphone in some circumstances. Don’t sit with a window behind you as you will appear in silhouette. You might invest in a photographic light on a stand if you don’t have good natural light. Watch reflection if you wear glasses.
2) If you are using slides, try to use a split screen which shows you and the slide. Don’t let your audience go to sleep!
3) Make sure you do not have background noise. This will distract from your message.
4) Remember that your voice will be under pressure. You could warm it up (see some tips HERE). Most importantly, breathe properly and have water available to keep fully hydrated.
5) Take your time. Your audience may be coping with poor reception and background distractions. Give them time to take it all in.
6) Aim to avoid caffeine before the training session. Coffee will reduce your hydration and put your vocal cords under more pressure. They will get tired and dry out quickly.
7) Let your face reflect your feelings. It is important that you show emotion for the words you are speaking.
8) Take care that gestures don’t obscure your face. Over enthusiastic hands can be distracting.
9) Make sure your screen position and camera allow you to look directly forwards. This will give you the best connection with your audience and avoid the tension caused by stretching your neck.
10) And finally, open your mouth to let out the sound fully. Remember this also helps people to lip-read which adds clarity to the oral message.
We may be training remotely for some time so I hope these tips help you to enjoy it and do it effectively.