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Some people are under the impression that you can’t bond in a virtual classroom setting. I’ve seen, firsthand, how it can be done, and I’ve been demonstrating this to our clients, one workshop at a time.
Think of a traditional classroom setting. As your learners walk in, you have the privilege of greeting them, giving them a warm handshake, and chit-chatting as everyone settles in. This is usually a natural progression, and we probably don’t even think about it.
So, how do we give that warm handshake online? How do we make learners feel comfortable in our virtual sessions? We must find new ways to create that human connection. Our learners need to feel less isolated, so they are eager to share and engage with one another.
Here are five tips to optimize engagement and start your virtual sessions on a high note:
Conduct a Warm-Up Activity
As learners log in, let them practice using the virtual platform tools and “warm up” their brains. Ask them a content-related question or something just for fun. For example, “If we didn’t need sleep, what would you do with the extra time? Enter your answer in the chat pod.” Always give learners something to do as they wait for the session to begin.
The introduction is sometimes viewed as trivial, but it can greatly impact the session. Learners must be able to connect with the facilitator to feel comfortable during the course. Upload an interesting picture of yourself enjoying a favorite hobby or live stream with your webcam to personalize the intro.
Conduct an Icebreaker
Personal connections can bridge the distance between learners and help create a sense of community. If your attendees are geographically dispersed, have everyone indicate where they are on a map or ask them to enter a type of food that’s best known in their region.
Create Personalized Learning Opportunities
Learners are more likely to be engaged if the training is tailored to their experience and needs. If the session doesn’t require the content to be taught in a specific order, allow learners to vote on which topic is most important to them, and tackle that topic first.
Present the Benefits
When learners understand the benefits of the training, they are more likely to be engaged throughout the course. Believe it or not, some learners don’t even know WHY they’re attending the training. Use an analogy, state a shocking fact, or share an expert opinion to present the benefits.
Recently, I had the pleasure of teaching a virtual class in which the level of bonding was off the charts! We felt like we had superpowers and one participant even named us, “Guardians of Virtual Training.” I used these techniques, and I am pleased to share that they work!
For even more ideas on engagement, check out our workshop, Maximizing Engagement in the Virtual Classroom where we discuss how to involve participants when presenting content, enhance the session with meaningful practice, and create dynamic intersession work.
What do you do to start your sessions on a high note? Can’t wait to hear from you.