Training & Development For Dummies
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Engagement in a webinar? Yep. It's probably more important than in a face-to-face classroom. Your learners will be bombarded by distractions. Here are a few ideas to keep your learners engaged. A rule of thumb is to introduce a change at least every three minutes to maintain your learners' attention:

  • Tell your learners the length of the session and never go longer — never. You will learn that they have already tuned out anyway, even if they have not officially hung up.

  • For large groups, mute all attendees before they come into the presentation. Tell them they are muted and unmute them for active discussions. Allow for a chat or questions box and actively use it. If you are doing a presentation that requires conversation, unmute the participants once you have completed your part of the program.

  • Grab participants' attention right up front. Give learners annotation rights at the very beginning. One way is to display a picture of the world or country where the participants are located and ask them to mark where they are on the map. It allows them to see where others are physically and it may also help you adjust your content if needed. It also helps get them engaged early and shows that they have some basic understanding of the software they are using.

  • Use individuals' names and as a courtesy be sure to tell them up front that you will do so. Having an attendance list nearby will help you with the names.

  • Monitor and respond to your chat box. Be sure you or your producer keeps a keen eye on the interaction and redirect questions or comments as needed.

  • Also ask questions and invite learners to use the chat box.

  • Use polls, quizzes, or surveys and keep them simple. It is about keeping learners engaged, not tricking them for the answer.

  • Use your producer as necessary to encourage engagement by managing questions and ensuring that everyone can see and hear the session. Your producer can also turn annotation rights on and off during your training.

You may want to create a couple of starter questions in case participants are shy early on and don't ask any. This is one advantage of not being able to see each other. It can kick start a Q &A session, demonstrating that you really want questions at any point during the session.

About This Article

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Elaine Biech is president and managing principal of ebb associates inc, an organizational and leadership development firm that helps organizations work through large-scale change. Her 30 years in the training and consulting field include support to private industry, government, and non-profit organizations.

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