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Marc Powell

Emailogic Limited

Managing Director

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Live online delivery – how to guarantee group engagement


What is the trick to delivering interactive live online learning, briefings or webinars that truly connect to the group?

We have all attended live online sessions- they are such an easy way of learning new skills and acquiring knowledge. Some will have been excellent, some bad and some just plain boring - which I suppose would count as bad!

But how do you define a really good live online session?

There are many answers people give to that question: they found the material relevant, the presenter kept them interested, s/he had a great voice and a very animated slide set.

But the one thing people will always say about a really successful and valuable live online session is that there was 'lots of interaction which kept me interested and engaged'.

Have you ever wondered why contributing to some polls, being asked to put up a virtual hand or being asked to answer questions verbally or by text can turn an average webinar into a vibrant, valuable session?

Well then, it’s important to understand what actually goes on with the audience and presenter when interactions occur on a live online session.

To understand this we need to first think about face to face training.

If you deliver face to face sessions you will be familiar with what I call the 'group feel'. The 'group feel' is the sense you experience after you have been delivering to a group for about 4-5 minutes. It is the sense that you are ‘bonded’ together and sharing the moment together. You have a group feel or group relationship. There is an unspoken understanding that the group ‘know’ understand and have accepted you to a degree - and vice versa.

Now let's get back to live online sessions.

When you present live online sessions, once you start making the group interact with hands up, polls or written and verbal questions, you are creating a relationship in a virtual world. It is a virtual relationship, it will feel different, yet it is still very much a real relationship. And when you do this with a virtual group you start to create a virtual ‘group feel’.

As a presenter it is essential to be aware of this and to 'work' this into your content and material with relevant interactions.

Here’s how:

  • have the attendees interacting right at the start. In the first 30 seconds. Top load the interactions (the longer you leave it the harder it will be – research has proven this).
  • encourage attendees to use the tools, show them how and also ask some questions relevant to the material you are presenting. Ask them to type in their answers
  • feed back the answers given to let people know you have heard them. It is also important for everyone to hear what other attendees are typing in too (unless they can see others comments – which depends on the package you are using).
  • keep the pace high and controlled. A script or good notes will help with this.
  • keep interactions happening throughout the session to keep the ‘group feel’ going.

Then here is the magic trick - as the presenter you need to trick your brain. Imagine that every individual piece of feedback you receive in every interaction is the same as if you were receiving those same answers in a face to face session. How would it make you feel if you were receiving those answers in a face to face session? It would feel marvellous! So pretend you are! Then notice how it makes you feel connected to the group.

Your delegates will hear that you feel more engaged as it will come across in your voice, pace and your manner – they will immediately become more engaged and interested. You will be communing together and creating that magical ‘group feel’. The outcomes from the session will dramatically improve.

Just try it and see.

By following these tips I guarantee that the next session you present will be more engaging and you will really feel connected with the group – and they with you. 

One Response

  1. This is a great article,
    This is a great article, thank you. Funnily enough I had just posted a blog on the same topic before I came across this one, and we clearly think along the same lines!
    One thing I would add is that it’s useful to have someone with you to help you keep an eye on all the replies and feedback coming in. It’s very difficult to focus on your content and what you are saying, whilst keeping track of what’s coming in. That someone can help filter what’s coming in in case you miss something. If you’re doing it right there will be a lot of two way traffic!

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Marc Powell

Managing Director

Read more from Marc Powell

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