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  • Deb Elliott - FLY Consulting

What you need to know when hosting virtual workshops through Zoom

It can be daunting thinking of going from face to face facilitation to the sudden change of virtual programs. Believe me, I did contemplate the idea of burying my head in the sand and crawling out gradually when I was ready. Putting a hold on everything and throwing my toys out of the cot in a crisis wasn’t going to be helpful, nor help pay for our overheads.

Being adaptable in the way we live has always been necessary, even more so since the global pandemic entered our lives. So ensuring we all have the ability to fight through any limiting beliefs and take action to create the right change was crucial.

I’m open to admitting my head tapes as soon as the global crisis flared up in an abundance. I was fighting with myself as my thoughts entered ‘I’m crap at technology’ and ‘What if I fail’.

I figured, if I’m feeling this then surely someone else is too. Therefore I wanted to bring to you all the things I have learnt may help you or someone that you know to give them a guide into what we need to look into, think about and create to ensure those online zoom meetings, whether your hosting them or involved as a guest are successful.

Firstly, in my need of taking action. I jumped onto any webinars I could get access to so I could see what I felt engaged in and motivated to watch till the end. What did they do as a presenter to keep you logged in. An hour is a long time. It had to hit the mark with the tone of their voice right down to the visual representation.

To be afraid to reach out to your network. In a time of need, reach out to anyone you know that is leaning into presenting online, either a manager, facilitator, coach or employee that has engaged in some virtual meetings. Some great information and knowledge can come from this. We don’t always need to have to come up with everything ourselves, having a collaboration of ideas can help us pinpoint out what is ideal for our own style.

Here are some tips on getting ready for a virtual meeting on zoom:

Have a Look here ➡️‘ post it note on your video/camera, you MUST look here. As they will feel more connected to you. The webinars I have been most disengaged with are the ones where I feel they are looking at their screen, reading of their notes. Look & engage with your audience so they feel like they are in the room with you.

Wifi connection. Now we are all working from home, kids home schooling, added devices online taking up the bandwidth. Imagine if you were the host and you dropped out. Essential to have a separate internet dongle to your family use. You may want to check your internet speed at different times of the day and host your sessions at a time when it is stronger as well. Morning is best for me, afternoon is a big no.

Ask your group joining the virtual meeting to have camera and audio as part of the registration criteria. Or they will have less chance to make strong connections. You can see up to 49 people on one screen through zoom. 55% of our effective communication is through Body Language, without that we are missing each other’s ques and visual keys.

Lighting and scenery. If your hosting, you don’t want to have a dark background. Move your room around to ensure your lighting is right. I have a lamp above my head on the opposite side to my ceiling light to ensure minimal shadowing on my face.

Ensure your looking at your window and not have your window behind you, the glare will put you in complete darkness and you will be in a shadow.

A whiteboard is hard to see unless you move computer super close or use the whiteboard in zoom.

If you are helping your staff develop, you may want to encourage coaching groups/buddies, put in location radius and maybe three’s so they can hook up if social rules relax.

Dual screen essential for a facilitator to see your delegates on a separate screen. Or you won’t see anyone to connect, body language, thumbs up is key to seeing if they are engaged. Or you will only see yourself or the PowerPoint.

Ensure you stop share your screen from time to time. Switch off from your PowerPoint when bringing them back from the break out rooms so they have an opportunity to see each other. Being mindful they can only see you & the PowerPoint.

Ensure your backdrop isn’t too busy. If you don’t have the chance to recreate your working space, you could choose a virtual background - a trip you have been on or something business like.

Ensure your intro picture is the same as your facilitation face. I have been surprised how many people present in webinars that look nothing like their branding pictures. Always dress to impress, we talk about personal branding, don’t lose your standards in a crisis. You can also touch up your face in video settings, takes away minor imperfections.

You can make someone a ‘co-host’ to help you. Someone to manage the chat screen, bring on the polls that you would pre plan, let people in from the waiting room, they can also keep an eye on no one dropping off. They can add any guest speakers into ‘spotlight mode’ when talking. Unless your helping guru has a paid pro zoom account, then they could be a dual host and help with breakout rooms. The breakout rooms were easy enough to navigate, move people in and out and enter as you wished to guide and assist participants. You could also move people into different rooms if they join later etc.

To ensure your session is as interactive as possible:

- Breakout rooms were a huge part of the interactions, our groups have loved this part.

- Poll straight up after 2 min intro: mental health check in. Whatever your poll is I’d have 3 within the 3 hours. Not too many to overkill though. Enough to keep them interacting.

- Ask them a mix of questions, rhetorical and ones they can add answers into the chat box stream - great for your quieter ones that don’t usually put their hand up you may find they will contribute here. Safer behind a computer.

- Get them to give you a wave if all can hear. Or use the icons in participant box of ‘yes or no’ or ‘thumbs up or down’ or can use reactions icons for ‘clap and high 5.

- If you have a powerpoint, be mindful your participants may not be able to easily see each other. As they possibly won’t have a double screen. Ensure you stop share your screen so you don’t have PowerPoint on after you bring back from group work so all can chat and give feedback on the session.

- If you invite a Guest Speaker, you can spotlight by going into the participants box and ‘more’ icon on them to spotlight them. You can also bring them in when group work is happening, when they are in the breakout rooms, then pop them in the waiting room for when you have wrapped up that session. Albeit 25 people on the screen they probably wouldn’t even notice an extra face.

- You can set up a free survey monkey or like for after the session to gain engagement feedback, you can also have this connected to zoom to flag up directly when the segment finishes.

- You can play YouTube clips although might need to click on more and share computer audio.

Ice breakers and movement are a necessary part of the day:

After morning tea - share who you live with, a pet or something you love in your home.

A Meditation or mindful exercise

A funny YouTube clip on something of a relevant topic for the day

10 x squats

A 20 second dance party

Some type of movement - make it fun. I used to want to be a ballet dancer, do some silly moves.

Ask a participant each time to come up with a move or something different, be weary/know your audience this may be overwhelming for them to be put on the spot.

I hope this has helped you think about all the things you would need to set up when hosting a virtual meeting on zoom. It seems quite easy to navigate to start with and then you keep finding more as you go along. I’m sure you will find something new when you start playing around. To start keep it simple to enjoy the journey and then extend to your skillset when you get confident. Or do what I have done and ensure my friends and family are in my practice sessions to grow in confidence. Stay safe and I encourage you to step up your virtual life.

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