Published by Jackie Barrie on

You probably know that KISS stands for Keep It Short and Simple. (Some people say Keep it Simple, Stupid, but I prefer my version.)

I advise speakers and trainers to get their audience to do something every 10-15 minutes online, to ensure they stay engaged. This can be something quick, such as asking a question in chat or clicking a reaction icon. Or it can be longer, such as brainstorming new ideas in a breakout room. But all the activities you run online need to be simple.

When you run a session in the same physical space as your trainees, you don’t have to tell people how to use a pen or how to write on a flipchart. But, when you run a session on Zoom or similar platforms, you sometimes have to give instructions about how to use the tech.

You can’t assume all your attendees know what they are doing. Even after 18 months of lockdowns, many people still haven’t got to grips with Zoom basics. Some are technophobes who avoid online interaction as much as possible. Others won’t be familiar with the specific features or tools you’re using.

You will need to tell them how much time they have got and remind them of the outcome they are supposed to deliver. That hasn’t changed from the ‘real world’.

You might also have to tell them how to get into a breakout room or move from one room to another, how to call for help if they need you when they’re in there, to watch out for any messages you broadcast (they appear in a small box at the top of the screen so can easily be missed), how to leave the room early if they want to (without accidentally leaving the meeting), how to share their screen, how to annotate on a whiteboard…

My advice is to keep it short and simple (KISS).

Avoid platforms that require people to download anything or where they have to create an account to participate. And always give brief but clear instructions that don’t embarrass anyone but equally don’t waste anyone’s time.

Also, be aware that some corporates don’t allow staff to visit external sites, so you might need to check with your client’s IT department in advance.

Some clients will insist you use, for example, MS Teams instead of Zoom. This restricts which interactive exercises you, as the guest speaker, will be able to run.

If you’re unsure, run a tech practice before your session. That way, you and your client can be more confident that everything will work the way you want.

And always remember that, just because the tech exists, you don’t have to use it. The whole point of any activities is to help engage your attendees and embed the learning. So the starting point is not: “Ooh, here’s a funky new feature, I wonder how I can use it?” It should be: “Here’s the learning outcome I want to achieve, what’s the best way to do that?”

If you need help with any of this, just ask.

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