There’s absolutely no doubt that the coronavirus is throwing everything off. But it doesn’t have to throw a kink into those meetings you’re now stuck with having online (from the comfort of your own home). And it’s definitely not a given that the coronavirus will be responsible for mangling the webinar you’re now forced to give because of social isolation.
Take a deep breath. And work with me.
Here are seven tips for getting through those online meetings and webinars with grace, grit and gumption.
The scarce resource of the 21st century will not be technology, it will be attention. Mark Weiser
Case in point: Ninety-two percent of folks admit to multi-tasking when they’re listening to a webinar (source: TechChange). You can drastically reduce that number by making your subject compelling. Create a narrative. Raise people’s curiosity. Do everything you can to make people want to listen and engage.
Here’s how: Create a hook. A hook is something that gets people curious and interested. Here’s an example from my own work when I teach subject matter experts how to design and deliver workshops –>: You’re going to learn how the letter M can radically improve your public speaking. Curious? I thought so. Voila, the hook.
Given how our brains work and our tendency to multi-task, interaction is your best friend. Like seriously, the best friend you’d give your last scoop of french vanilla ice cream with pecans and chocolate chips to.
The golden rule of thumb is to create interaction every five minutes (Source: TechChange). Yes, that’s no typo. Every five minutes. And make sure you start the interaction early.
This is the technique that stumps the most number of people I work with so I’ll do a future post about ideas for how to add interaction to any topic. And I mean any.
3. Make it personal
People respond when they feel a personal connection and when they feel included. You can make it personal by calling people by name and by learning towards the informal. Examples are using contractions (‘we’re’ is more informal than ‘we are’), and instead of using pronouns like “they, them” use “we, I.”
4. Avoid distractions
People are distracted enough without us adding to the mix. Make sure your background is pleasing to look at, you don’t have anything hitting your speaker, you’re not constantly looking off-screen, etc.
5. Use a variety of ways to help learning sink in
Give participants multiple ways to hear and learn from you (and each other). Record calls (both audio and video) so folks can replay them later at their convenience in a way that works best for them (eg audio replay while on a walk, video replay for sitting down at a laptop).
6. Create compelling visuals
Images are on your side. Add them to your information. Our brains interpret images 600,00 times faster than text. Bonus: images help create a narrative. Just make sure you have the right to use them.
7. Think about access and inclusion issues
Consider what specific access and inclusion issues your participants face. That is, things that will affect their ability to access the material and be included. Here are some examples.
- Don’t ask people to attend a meeting or a webinar at an ungodly hour in their timezone. Plan for the furthest away.
- Be careful of bandwidth issues if that’s an issue for your people. Some tools are bandwidth-heavy (like video) and some are not.
The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it. Mark Weiser
We are smack in the middle of unusual times. Take control by being compelling, interactive, make it personal, avoid distractions, use a wide variety of ways to express yourself, use great graphics, think about access and inclusion issues and you’ll be rocking it online.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead.
- Watch this video of me doing a horrible webinar and see how many mistakes you can catch.
- Check out this sweet and hilarious video of a man in quarantine in Italy having a party, in a rather, unusual way.
- More great tips on setting up remote work during the coronavirus outbreak including creating remote-first experiences.
- Take a deep breath, follow my seven tips and dive into your online meetings and webinars. You got this! And stay safe and well.
P.S. Check out my Workshops that Work online workshop so you can learn 4 steps to taking that beloved subject matter expertise of yours and start teaching it to others.