Three ways to improve the quality of remote meetings and learning

remote meetings

Part of the beauty with technology is an ability to leverage powerful videos. If you’re going to do this you can still create sensory experiences by rendering files with the decibels pulled right down. That way you can still present live and create additional mood ambiance, writes Mark Carter

Twenty-twenty forced an increased hand leveraging remote solutions. We’re sensory beings though, so whilst screen share, emojis or breakout rooms are handy, we’ll likely bounce back to live as and when permitted. That said, remote and blended learning, even hybrid events, will stick around longer so it’s a great time to up skill robustly for longevity to make remote sessions memorable and polished.

It’s a curious fact that creativity and reactivity have the same letters yet are complete polarities when applied to ideas and implementation. We saw the creativity in early COVID days. Businesses adapted swiftly to respond online: Zoom and Microsoft Teams being frequently preferred defaults. There are so many choices too, so depending on purpose others may be more robust or suitable: especially meetings or events of scale. We’re also now experiencing the result of that reactivity: sessions have become little more than talking heads, mundane, more of the same or the equivalence of amateur dramatics in execution. ‘You’re still on mute’ being an emerging meme!

The best way to add value to remote sessions is to know your content, do your preparation, know the overall run sheet and segways, take control of smooth transitions, set clear instructions and be a fully present DJ to enhance the total remote flow.

As the former Learning and Development Head for Intercall (West), a conferencing company, all the content the team designed and implemented over a period of two years was through a variety of virtual platforms: both proprietary and licensed. Regardless the virtual flavour you tend to favour here’s some lessons to take into account. They’re designed to lift the quality, engagement and actionable impacts of remote sessions with the beauty being none rely on wiz-bang, most expensive tech!

Don’t get lost in feature wizardry
If leveraging different platforms with different clients keep up to date with upgrades. Simultaneously I see some people leaping to use a funky new feature immediately upon release. You may well be able to insert your face into PowerPoint for a virtual session yet a better question to ask is why would you? If you wouldn’t usually do it, does it make sense or why get excited at the prospect now?

Remind yourself any bells and whistles or wizardry (emojis, chat, polls, questions, breakout rooms, whiteboards, file share, screen share, hand over control, whatever) are for variety and choice. If they fit into the design of content or required outcomes, great, if not, don’t worry: leave them be this time around. To use them otherwise makes the feature akin to Bridget Jones turning up at that garden party in her bunny suit. To a broader audience the feature may feel completely out of place or superfluous.

Blend tech capabilities with basic facilitation skills
Whatever technology or platform you choose should serve to enable a more important aspect: people involvement, engagement and human connection.

There are likely a handful of key features and controls you want to wrap your head around if you’re the overall owner or facilitator. Familiarise yourself with these select few key controls. In that regard you might become a little like a facilitation DJ or ninja. Practise, Mr Meagi Karate Kid style, wax on wax off, becoming nimble through repetition so your hands instinctively where to go in loops:

  • Mute, unmute, share, unshare, camera on, camera off… repeat (fun video demo)

Have any files open locally and organised on your desktop ready for use. Familiarise yourself with additional boxes to optimise sharing sound or visuals (especially for videos). Have chat or Q&A boxes isolated, easy to observe when needed, then remember to succinctly position how you wish the audience to interact throughout. A handful of key functions, monitored and mastered, or key instructions will elevate the overall experience and set expectations with the audience at hand. This also means you can be more present.

We’re also now experiencing the result of that reactivity: sessions have become little more than talking heads, mundane, more of the same or the equivalence of amateur dramatics in execution. ‘You’re still on mute’ being an emerging meme!

Audience interaction, participation and sensory engagement
This is a critical key: focus more on overall content design and facilitation in delivery. The more you maintain contact with your camera is akin to looking your audience in the eye. Once you’re comfortable with controls this becomes easier. If video drags down audio quality, elect to place to priority on the sound. Like a great radio segment, listeners can still build powerful pictures and connections within their own mind.

Look for opportunities to ask open questions. As a part of your planning and preparation create activities that allow people to interact or participate. You don’t need breakout rooms for people to work in pairs. They all have phones. It’s your preparation and creative thinking that brings sessions to life. Remember to use tools or props easily found at home: old school pen and paper never hurts.

Part of the beauty with technology is an ability to leverage powerful videos. If you’re going to do this you can still create sensory experiences by rendering files with the decibels pulled right down. That way you can still present live and create additional mood ambiance.

The best way to add value to remote sessions is to know your content, do your preparation, know the overall run sheet and segways, take control of smooth transitions, set clear instructions and be a fully present DJ to enhance the total remote flow.

Image Source: Pexels