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"The Hunter Who Chases Two Rabbits Catches Neither"

Posted by Lori Dearman
Lori Dearman
Lori Dearman has not set their biography yet
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on Saturday, 01 January 2011
in Virtual Junction

I first heard these wise words while working at Samsung in South Korea, and I find myself repeating them quite often these days. It is not only difficult but oftentimes risky to chase two rabbits at the same time. Ok… perhaps I should stop speaking in proverb and let you in on the specifics of what I am referring to.

As I work with more and more clients who are dabbling in the area of Virtual Instructor-Led training (vILT), I can see that the tendency is to start with a hybrid approach. By hybrid I mean that they continue to run their instructor-led classroom version and then plug in the virtual piece to expand enrollments and reduce the need for an additional instructor. From the fiscal perspective, I certainly understand where they are coming from as we are all looking very closely at the bottom line these days. From the pedagogical approach however, this practice puts their brand at risk, which if unchecked, can have an even bigger negative impact on the bottom line and one that is much more costly to reverse.

Is your organization heading down this path in favor of a better bottom line? Here are a few points that might help tip the scales in the opposite direction:

Tags: Online, Training

What's alignment got to do with online presenting?

Posted by Lori Dearman
Lori Dearman
Lori Dearman has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 17 August 2010
in Presentation

I recently started taking classes in body alignment at a fabulous place called the Restorative Exercise Institute (REI). If you happen to live in or around Ventura, California, you should check it out. If you don't live in the area, the owner, Katy Bowman, also runs a blog called katysays.com. There are literally hours of fascinating reading posted there. It is definitely worth a look.

I’m sure by now you are wondering what this information has to do with running high performance virtual training or winning webinars, so allow me to explain. Last night, I was doing the requisite laps around the REI building during a circuit training class, and while I was speed walking, I saw the most exquisite standing work station set-up. Now THAT is what I need! All my alignment problems would be solved- well at least some of them! And then it hit me! Good alignment and effective virtual presentation skills actually intersect! This is to say that if you want to be well aligned and reap all of the great health benefits, it would do you well to set up a standing workstation. An added bonus is that your presentation skills would experience the same bump in health. That’s right. Many of the best online presenters actually stand and deliver. If you record two online presentation, one with you sitting and one where you are standing, you will hear the difference in the power of your voice and the impact on your listeners. Try it. I did!

Looking for more great ways to improve virtual delivery? Here are my top five tips: 

  1. Stand and deliver: Stand while you deliver your webinars or online trainings. I know we’ve already discussed this, but let me add that a good headset with a long tether will go a long way in making this strategy work for you. Also be mindful not to pull the plug on your head set or jar your phone so that it hangs up your call-- assuming you are dialing in to a conference. Some presenters go as far as rubber banding their headset to the phone to avoid this very problem.
  2. Gesturing is a good thing: Don’t be embarrassed to use gestures just as you would in a live event. Gestures help you pause at the right time and add emphasis to your delivery.
  3. Never skip the sound check: Position your microphone carefully to avoid heavy breathing or sounding like you are presenting in a tunnel. A quick test recording or a microphone check with a co-worker can help diagnose any sound issues ahead of the live event. I recommend a sound check each and every time you present. I swear there are gremlins messing with my headset from time to time, and it just doesn’t work the way it did the day before or even an hour before.
  4. Be real: Talk with your attendees rather than to them. Stop periodically to ask questions, share a story or ask for their input. Attendees are looking for a way to connect. If you don’t connect with them, they will tune you out almost immediately. And whatever you do, avoid the temptation to read from a script. Unless you are a very skilled teleprompter type, your audience will see right through it and prepare for a snooze fest.
  5. Practice makes better:  Last but definitely not least… practice, practice, practice! I risk being repetitious, but nothing improves delivery more than practice. I strongly recommend audio recording a practice session so that you can be on the look out for ums, ahs and other distracting crutch phrases. Crutch phrases are distracting during a live event, but they are even more distracting during an online event as your voice has an even more powerful role.
Posted by Lori Dearman
Lori Dearman
Lori Dearman has not set their biography yet
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on Monday, 31 May 2010
in Training

One of the challenges that I’ve faced in delivering vILT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training) is in combining the live online experience with use of extensive or sophisticated supplemental materials. Some online training tools allow you to upload materials and make them available before, during or after a training in the form of a word document or PDF.  For brief materials, this works quite nicely. You can have attendees refer to the electronic versions (and save a tree) or, when necessary, have them print materials and worksheets to be completed during the class or on breaks.

However, for longer materials that really need to be bound and look professional, this approach can present a challenge. One easy alternative is to use an on-demand publishing house like LuLu or Delta L. These online on-demand print shops allow you to upload your materials and make them available for purchase online by your attendees. They take care of the printing, binding and shipping, so it is a very easy process to manage from the trainer’s side. That is one less thing to worry about, and it frees up time to focus on the content and delivery of the course rather than the logistics.

Personally, I like this option as I am able to provide professional looking bound color copies of materials that students are less likely to lose. Let's face it, many don’t even print out the materials in the first place and if they do, will they actually hole punch them and put them in a binder? Providing a professional looking printed copy eliminates this variable as you  guide your virtual attendees through the online classroom experience.

Here are some tips for using hard copy materials during a virtual training:

  • If you use color in your materials, you can include a color coding that matches with a color on your slides so that each module in the book matches up with the corresponding slides on the screen.
  • Be sure to include page numbers on the hard copies and list them on the visuals during the training. Even during the most riveting training, attendees have a tendency to get momentarily distracted, and it helps if the page number that you are on is shown on the screen so that they can jump back into the rhythm of the course without interrupting another attendee with a chat to ask where you are.
  • If you have them completing an exercise on their own, put stop signs on the hard copy after each section that you want them to complete. This gives students a visual cue of when to stop working on the book and when to log back into the live event.
  • Use a breaktimer when you ask students to go off and work on hard copy materials. This will help keep them on task and get them back on time. If your online training tool doesn’t have one built in, try a third-party application such as Online Stopwatch.
  • Have students raise their hands upon completion of a task so that it is clear to you that everyone is back.
  • Be sure to tie in the activity that attendees have just finished with whatever you plan to do once they have returned. A poll, a quiz or some type of debrief allows them to process the individual activity along with the group.

Do you have experience with using hard copies during a vILT? If so, please share your thoughts.

Tags: Online, Training
Posted by Lori Dearman
Lori Dearman
Lori Dearman has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 30 March 2010
in Presentation

blog-marchAs you may know, I presented at the New Learning Technologies 2010 SALT Conference in Orlando this month. The topic was “Navigating the Move to an Online Classroom." I am pleased to announce that it was both well attended and well received.

If you missed the presentation, let me know if the topic is of interest to you and we can consider doing it in a Webinar format in the future. Just let us know

Of particular interest to the audience was using games in the online classroom to review concepts and/or break the ice. In response to their questions, I pulled together a list of my favorite games that can be played online and used to reinforce learning or serve as an ice breaker to get attendees participating.

Here’s my shortlist:

Making Sense of Alphabet Soup

Posted by Lori Dearman
Lori Dearman
Lori Dearman has not set their biography yet
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on Friday, 26 February 2010
in Training

I recently visited my 90-year-old grandmother in Florida, and in the course of our conversation I told her that I was going out on my own. Naturally, she asked me what I was "going out on my own" to do. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs, so the idea of owning one's own business is not at all foreign to our clan. However, as I opened my mouth to give her my well practiced elevator pitch, I realized that 90% of the words that were about to spill out had absolutely no meaning to her. "Virtual", "Webinar", "Online Training", "VoIP", "Blog", "vILT"... The list goes on.

I paused to ponder how to break it down for her in a way that she would understand. As a trainer, I knew that it was important to build on what the learner, or in this case, my grandmother already knew. So it went something like this:

Lori: Grandma, can you imagine how much money and time is spent these days on travel for business meetings? How much money companies spend on training their employees on how to do business or their customers on how to use their products?

Grandma: Quite a bit of money I imagine.

Tags: Online, Training
 

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