When I was first asked if I wanted to deliver virtually, I thought about how we prepare for face-to-face work; excellent materials, check your technology, have pens, flipcharts, post-its, props all ready, get a good ambience in the room. And, of course, preparing yourself and getting into the right state to deliver.
On the virtual stage
On a virtual session, the trainer is a larger focal point, as the learners can’t see anyone except you, if you have a webcam. Your only props are your slides, so it’s best to make them clear and simple. Then move onto your voice, which can turn your delivery from good to great.
Virtual sessions tend to be shorter than face-to-face sessions, so it’s important to have a higher level of intensity within you, while always exuding a level of control to accommodate every individual on the session.
It’s a completely different cognitive load to working face-to-face. This means a spot-on energy level from the start, to initially captivate and assure the group, then retain their attention throughout the session. The moment you ‘meet’ learners, you need a mix of energy, gravitas, empathy, assurance and subject knowledge. And you can’t see them.
So, what helps you to rev up your energy levels for a virtual?
First, it is important to know your subject matter. Practise out aloud, record yourself until you’re happy. Be aware of your facial expressions, particularly when learners say something unexpected or you encounter technical issues. Have everything you need within touching distance; make sure you have adequate light so you look good on the webcam.
Think about the points where you will need to raise/lower your pitch, or speed up/slow down. Notice the links between sections, so you can boost your vocal energy to recap the closing section and introduce the next one.
Remember that when you ask learners to do something technically tricky, such as moving them into separate ‘rooms’, think about how you are going to guide them with a mix of clarity, empathy and simplicity to enthuse and assure them. These factors help convince you that you’re ready to move onto your voice.
Get up and go
Before I start, I tend to either meditate and/or power pose for two minutes. I’ll repeat a tongue twister out loud, such as, ‘I want a proper cup of coffee in a proper, copper coffee pot’ to get my voice tuned up and make sure I’m articulating every syllable of every word. I’ll repeat my opening sentence a few times to make sure the session starts well. Then I’ll visualise the happy faces that I won’t be able to see.
In virtual work, enthusiasm and vocal skills work best with an equally high level of control. That takes energy and concentration.
I was once told that virtual delivery is like being a DJ. I’d add that it’s a bit like flying a plane. You exude calmness and control in the knowledge that if anything unlikely to happen actually happens, you have the confidence to deal with it seamlessly.
I’ve never flown a plane, but I have been told that it’s quite a thrill and it’s only when you’ve landed that you realise how much mental energy you’ve used. That’s how I feel after a virtual – so rev yourself up, strap in and stay in control!
About our guest blogger
Based in the Scottish Highlands, Paul works throughout the UK & Ireland. Client feedback describes Paul’s training as interactive, informative, engaging and practical. Paul is a qualified coach, Master Practitioner of NLP and Licensed Facilitator of SDI.