The number one thing most teachers and trainers tell me when we discuss their most pressing problems is how difficult it is to engage their audience. This was especially true during the COVID pandemic when almost all programs were delivered online in a virtual or remote setting.
While the world appears to be slowly emerging from the pandemic and returning to familiar face-to-face interaction, there are still many programs that are required or are now preferred to be presented in a virtual environment.
Novel Strategies to Increase Virtual Engagement
You can never have enough strategies to engage your audience, no matter if you are standing before your group in a face-to-face environment or via a virtual pixellated version of yourself. Below are a list of strategies that Chad Littlefield and I have developed that will ramp up the engagement in your online presentations.
Collaborative journalling – Pose a question and invite all of your participants to enter their responses in the chatroom. Within the space of a minute, your group will have produced a massive volume of useful information that is (a) ready to be scanned and (b) digested as a group.
Thumb-o-meter – One of the quickest and simplest ways to engage your group is to invite each person to hold up their thumb in response to a question you have asked, eg Give me a thumbs up if you are ready to move on…”
Googling – This strategy gives your group the permission they crave to open their browser and search for something. For example, ask your group to search Google to find something about a topic you nominate that the group may not know. Allow up to a minute for these searches to occur and then invite people to share what they discovered via audio, chat or a link.
Wiki Game – If this is new to you, check out this wonderfully creative and random activity we call the Wiki Journey. The competitive fervour will build quickly and before you know it, your group will have travelled down a bunch of random rabbit holes leading to all sorts of discoveries.
Think of a Question – How often do you conclude your presentation with “Do you have any questions?” This question seems as obvious as it is innocuous but it rarely produces the desired results. Rather, invite everyone in your group to think of a question they could ask. Based on the experience of Chad and me, we have discovered this question will elicit many more interesting questions than its familiar alternative. Give it a try, I think you’ll like it.
Stop for 60 seconds – Sometimes, to become more productive we just have to stop and do nothing for a short while. Consider asking your group to stop and reflect for one minute. Ask them to switch off their cameras and microphone, or send everyone off to their own breakout room, and then sit in silent contemplation. Maybe you send people off with a question to think about, but simply asking people to stop can be a surprisingly useful energiser.
Leverage your Wallpaper – Consider using your slides as the wallpaper or virtual background of your meeting. This is akin to you standing in front of a huge screen showcasing your slides as you deliver your keynote speech. Don’t read the words off the slide/screen, but talk to them. To this end, it is imperative that you use words sparingly on your slides.
Translate bullet points – Share a slide with a small number of bullet points, each with very few words. Then ask your group to translate in their own words what they understand each of the abbreviated bullet point means. Use the chatroom for this purpose if you can to record these musings. This can be a really powerful technique to monitor understanding and comprehension.
Check out Chad
Chad produces brilliant videos on his channel which I highly recommend you check out.
If you’d like to see Chad speak to more ideas about how you can increase engagement with your virtual programs, click the button below.