Photo by: Henri Mathieu-Saint-Laurent via Pexels
We’ve all been there; sitting in virtual purgatory while waiting for that online training session or meeting to begin. If you’re lucky, there’s some on-hold music. If you’re not, there’s that distracting, click-clacking sound of another participant’s keyboard flowing over their unmuted mic. You breathe deeply, look at the time, and wish you’d waited to login until just before the start of the session. You switch screens to peruse your Facebook feed in a desperate attempt to retain your sanity and calm your nerves.
Finally, the facilitator’s voice jolts you out of your purgatory haze. It’s time to begin.
Or is it? Sally still hasn’t thought to use her mute button. Her click-clacking continues and now she’s rustling papers. Alex can’t find his copy of the agenda but doesn’t know how to unmute his mic to speak so he’s messaging wildly in chat. Arij dialed into the meeting five minutes late but can’t see the screen. And Pavlo is talking incessantly about the weather with a colleague who lives on the other side of the country. The facilitator sends chat messages to Bob, trying to solve his problem while speaking over Pavlo to give instructions to Arij.
It’s now a good 10 minutes into the session and the agenda has not even been mentioned. Participants are quickly becoming impatient and starting to focus on outside tasks.
We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way!
Having participants login 15 minutes early has many benefits, and it’s something we highly recommend. Having participants login early AND be welcomed by a live voice is even better! Whether it’s a co-facilitator or a producer, having someone there to greet your participants as they connect starts your session off successfully. Here’s why:
- A personal greeting is inclusive and sets participants at ease.
- The greeter can set the tone for the conversation and encourage others to chit chat. This helps participants feel like they’re part of a community and allows them to get their chattiness out of their systems before the session starts.
- A knowledgeable greeter can assist participants with technical or logistical issues and resolve them before the session begins.
- A friendly reminder from the greeter asking participants to mute their mics when they aren’t speaking will limit the amount of distracting background noises during the session.
- The greeter can email any missing documents before the session.
- A greeter can remind participants of the session start time and hand over the stage to the facilitator precisely at that time.
There will always be a participant who logs in late or has continuing technical problems. By having a producer or co-facilitator greet everyone, they can eliminate most issues before the session, leaving the facilitator to focus on their delivery of the meeting or training material relatively unincumbered.
If you set a positive tone from the get-go, your participants will enter the session more relaxed and in a frame of mind to engage. Starting the meeting or training on time will let participants know that you value their time. In turn, you will earn their respect and attention.
What techniques do you use to welcome your virtual participants and ensure a successful start to an online session?
If you are a new producer and need the core skills to ensure a smooth and successful virtual learning experience, look no further! The Virtual Classroom Producer workshop will give you a toolkit of valuable job aids, tips, and techniques to help you excel in your role before, during, and after every virtual classroom session.