Now that webinars and Zoom training courses have become the new normal, trainers need to tackle brand-new issues. One pressing question is how to hold participants’ attention during a live online meeting. What you shouldn’t do is simply convey information, as there will be no interaction. But what should you do? “Organize shorter training courses for smaller groups of people, and provide enough energizers,” says Paul Devilee, co-owner of actors’ agency Kapok. Companies hire his actors to help employees improve their interaction and communication skills. Recently, LearningStone organized a range of sessions with Kapok. The key question: How to make the synchronous part of an online training course interactive?
Benefits of an online training course
Making the switch from physical to online can be quite radical for trainers. But, according to Paul, it also comes with significant benefits: “Introverted people prefer to take an online training course because it’s often more quiet, and they have more time to think. On top of that, people tend to focus on non-verbal communication, as the camera is aimed at their faces. When groups are very small, participants can’t nod off for this very reason.”
At the same time, it’s the trainer’s job to hold participants’ attention. How to pull that off during a live online meeting? Paul shares 5 tips!
1. Opt for activating methods of teaching
Paul shares an interesting example: the ‘horseshoe’ exercise. “During a digital meeting, this means you have participants turn the camera on and off very rapidly. The trainer engages in 10- to 15-second interactions with each participant, who briefly turns on the camera to talk to the trainer. This way, everybody will get to speak, which keeps them active and involved. There’s no time to sit back and relax!”
2. Provide energizers
“Take this very literally,” says Paul. “You can, for example, have people run a little race while sitting in their chairs. As a trainer, you should take the lead: you warm up, wave at the grandstand, and stomp your feet on the floor. You will have to overcome your own hesitation, but if you do, you’ll notice people will really enjoy it and find it funny.”
3. Get creative with breaks
After an hour or so, participants really need a break. Paul explains you should make the most of these moments: “You can, for example, tell people to change one thing about their appearance during the coffee break. One person will put on their glasses, the other will change into a cardigan. When people get back, they will stare at each other to spot the differences. This creates interaction.”
4. Use the chat feature
Ask a question, and you’ll get answers. “People have time to think and respond,” says Paul. “By using the chat feature, you keep participants active and involved.”
5. Work with breakout rooms
Working with breakout rooms during a physical live meeting takes a lot of time and effort. After all, you need to break up the group and send people to different rooms. Paul explains it’s much simpler to do this online: “If you use Zoom, you can easily divide the group into smaller groups. As a trainer, you can go to each breakout room — for example, to see what participants are doing. And when the group reunites, you can use the horseshoe exercise to ensure the best interaction with all participants!”
Want to switch to an online blended training approach quickly? Each Thursday, LearningStone organizes a free 30-minute webinar to set you in the right direction. Register now!