I am a fan of face-to-face learning experiences. When a facilitator is in the same room with me, I am more likely to be fully engaged and on-task. But there are times when a webinar is a reasonable replacement for classroom training. Yet, webinars have a reputation for low engagement rates and retention. Here are three ideas that I frequently build into my webinars to increase interactions with participants.
1. Ask participants to grab a piece of paper and keep it nearby throughout the webinar. After your introduction, direct everyone to begin a thinking map on their paper so that they can actively capture key ideas and map out how they are related to each other. You can model this on the screen, and return to it several times throughout the webinar.
2. Add an interesting photo, related to the content, and ask participants to chat in a caption. This gets everyone’s creative juices flowing and often adds a bit of humor. Depending on the webinar platform you are using, you can also have participants vote for their favorite caption.
3. Place two photos, side by side, on a single slide, labeled A and B. Ask participants to look at the photos and notice similarities and differences. As they chat in their observations, ask follow-up questions that will take their thinking to a deeper level.
Can you name the companies that are affiliated with these slogans?
Slogans are a powerful way to capture and promote an essential message. They are also an easy way to summarize essential learning at the end of a class. Begin by sharing a few famous slogans, like those above, and asking participants to identify the companies. Next, ask participants to work in small groups to generate slogans that capture the key message of your content. After a few minutes, ask each group to share out their slogan. With no prep on your part, you will have engaged your group in a quick, memorable review!
The Small BIG, by Steven Martin, Noah Goldstein and Robert Cialdini is packed with research from the field of persuasion science about how small actions can lead to significant change. The authors' purpose is to reveal one simple truth:
"When it comes to influencing the behaviors of others, it is often the smallest changes in approach that make the biggest differences."
One specific suggestion for trainers is to hand materials directly to participants as they arrive, rather than leaving them out on tables. The perceived value of the material increases as the receiver makes a direct, tangible connection with the facilitator. The class materials feel more like a gift, than an extra item to carry home in a briefcase. What a simple idea that most of us can implement immediately.
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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