After you analyze your existing face-to-face training assets and before you begin modifying your materials that you will use for your virtual instruction, you will need to answer a few questions.
To chat or not to chat? When you are presenting to large audiences, you may prefer the control that you have when you use chats. You or your producer/moderator can determine which chats you display and which questions you choose to respond to. You may also decide to group questions and answer them as a group during a natural breaking point in your instruction.
Who can talk with whom? The United States is a democracy, and we typically believe in free speech and that all voices deserve to be heard. That works fine with small audiences. With larger audiences, it creates anarchy. In those cases, provide attendees with the ability to chat with you through your producer/moderator. You may wish to provide participants with the ability to chat with other attendees only on a limited basis.
To YouTube or not to YouTube? I personally use YouTube videos, but I am selective, YouTube contains a wealth of material on just about any topic that you can think of. There are a few problems with using content from this site. YouTubes streamed from the network may run slowly. There are some utilities that you can use to copy the videos and run them from your computer or distribute them to attendees in a shared folder. When you use this strategy, ensure that you are not in violation of any copyright laws. You may also stream the videos from the web and then share your screen. These videos will probably run very slowly and appear choppy. Finally, you may provide attendees with the YouTube link using the chat feature, but many corporate firewalls do not allow employees to access YouTube. My recommendation is that you decide on a couple of methods you would like to use, test them, and provide attendees with some options. Some YouTubes also contain advertisements and often a list related videos on the right side of the media window. Access your videos often to check that you can live with the pictures and titles displayed. You can be unpleasantly surprised.
Webcams are an interesting idea, but can you really live with them? You may be enticed by the ability of others to see your face, but do you also want them to see you reading your notes? Will you always look your professional best? Think about it. Also, webcam feeds can run painfully slowly. As Webcams get better and Internet connections faster this limitation will be minimized.
Will more be merrier? For larger and longer training modules or courses, consider using one or more presenters, or even a panel. Be sure to provide, or quality assure each presenter’s materials. As best you can, make sure that the other presenters rehearse alone and all of you participate in at least one dry run virtually or face-to-face.
Where can you plan to be spontaneous? Do you really think that Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, Jim Carrey, and Tina Fey do not work at being spontaneously funny? Well, think again! They do. You can seem spontaneous only when you are meticulously prepared. Sure, you can improvise from time to time, but only when you have a wealth of routines nailed down that you can draw upon at will. As an example, most late night hosts have prepared lines that they use when they fumble or when a joke falls flat on its face. If you pay attention, you will notice at least one of these events during every monologue. One such host recently handled a joke failing by saying, “Boy, this is a cold audience. Did you all come here from Saskatoon?”
How can I get attendees to stick around until the end? Hold back some useful material, such as a job aid, pocket chart, or timely article, and distribute it at the end of your virtual class. Let attendees know that you will be doing this. Try to make this last-minute gift very “wow.”
Where can I gather additional materials for my instruction? You can find more materials for your course just about anywhere. These materials can include podcasts, quick yet professional video demonstrations, collaterals, and certainly graphics. Besides using your existing materials, I recommend that you speak with people in sales, product management, marketing, and a variety of other technical and corporate departments for materials that are appropriate to your virtual instruction.
Kindly share your ideas. I look forward to hearing from you.
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