Photo by: Shironosov via Canva
Hello everyone, I hope you’re having a lovely spring! As we move into year two of this pandemic, most of us are still facilitating virtually out of necessity. Many of us will continue with this delivery method moving forward. Since I’ve been producing in the virtual classroom through this new online era, I’d love to share three tips I’ve picked up for effective vocal delivery in the virtual classroom.
Keep Your Tone Enthusiastic
The most important tool in your virtual classroom trainer’s toolbox is your voice. If your organization does not use webcams in your online classes, then your voice is the star of the show as you guide your participants through your sessions. If you use your voice correctly, you can keep your learners engaged, interested, and feeling like they’re in the room with you, versus feeling bored and isolated at home. If you do use webcams throughout your training, your voice will still set the tone for the workshop. Stay tuned for a future article from my colleague, Marsha, where she shares the pros and cons of webcams, as well as a few tips.
If you sound monotonous and seem unenthusiastic about the training topic, then participants will have a significantly harder time resisting the tantalizing siren calls of Instagram, Facebook, emails, and online shopping. We recommend slightly upping your vocal enthusiasm for the virtual classroom to ensure your participants experience your passion.
Use Your Voice to Create a Friendly Atmosphere
In both webcam and non-webcam classes, use your voice to inject some warmth into the virtual ambiance. Some participants are resistant to the switch from traditional in-person training to virtual classroom training because they feel virtual training will be isolating, impersonal, and lack interaction. With proper design, this simply isn’t the case.
Successful virtual classroom design should incorporate plenty of opportunities for interaction and practice (here at Langevin, we recommend approximately two thirds of your training be devoted to application and feedback), but the biggest factor in combating isolation will come from injecting a sense of warmth and fun into the class with your facilitation skills. Find opportunities to create personal connections, allow your participants plenty of opportunities to work together, and be sure to provide personalized feedback to your participants whenever you can.
Be Mindful of Your Pace
It’s a good idea to slow your rate of speech in the virtual classroom. The language you use to facilitate may not be the first language of all your participants. Without non-verbal cues, it can be even harder for those participants to follow along. Even if you are using webcams and your participants can view your non-verbal cues, technology can affect your audio. For these reasons, we recommend slowing down your speech in the virtual classroom, and really taking the time to enunciate as you provide clear and concise instructions.
We also recommend filming yourself giving a short presentation on any topic and immediately reviewing it. Notice any “likes,” “umms,” or “uhhs?” Most of us are prone to using filler words when we speak off-the-cuff because we’re giving our brain a second to come up with our next statement. To avoid this, practice pausing when you need a second, rather than forging ahead. A facilitator needs to be a skilled speaker. They should be able to manage effective voice modulation along with appropriate pauses for emphasis.
Incorporate these techniques when you’re facilitating your next virtual classroom session and you are sure to shine. Your participants will see virtual classroom training can be just as fun, engaging, and interactive as traditional in-person training.
My challenge to you? Create an action plan for your next virtual classroom session and detail how you’ll utilize one of these tips for maximum effectiveness. Good luck, VC facilitators!
To learn more on how to apply effective speaking skills to engage your learners and to “read” learners in a virtual environment, The Virtual Trainer workshop is a great place to start.