As web conferencing increasingly becomes a part of our communication toolbox through a variety of free and paid services, we are growing increasingly aware of how easy it is to join and participate in communities of learning for meetings and training opportunities. And it doesn’t take lots of time or money to bring ourselves up to speed: we can quickly gain an understanding of how much we benefit with a minimal amount of effort.
We are, at the same time, becoming increasingly aware that how we present ourselves—and present, ourselves—in online settings has a tremendous impact on how effective we are as trainer-teacher-learners and meeting facilitators. Three notable books, written for trainers and educators but full of information helpful to anyone conducting online meetings for any purpose, can help us through that process.
Bonnie Elbaum, Cynthia McIntyre, and Alese Smith, in Essential Elements: Prepare, Design, and Teach Your Online Course, offer what they consider to be the seventeen essential steps of preparing online learning sessions which will keep instructors and learners equally engaged. The book opens with a section on how to build a course outline. A second section moves into elements of designing a course which helps students (and others) maintain their focus and develop effective collaborations to foster learning. An extensive checklist summarizes the contents of the entire book for anyone involved in developing and delivering online learning opportunities.
Jennifer Hofmann, an e-learning consultant and president of InSync Training, LLC, combines summaries, tips, and examples to familiarize trainers and others conducting online meetings with the challenges of creating and conducting successful online sessions in The Synchronous Trainer’s Survival Guide: Facilitating Successful Live and Online Courses, Meetings, and Events. The second chapter, “Facilitating in the Synchronous Classroom,” is a wonderful primer. It outlines facilitators’ roles in directing learning while helping participants communicate and collaborate online; reminds presenters and facilitators that flexibility and an ability to work well in stressful situations are key components to success in online presentations; and discusses key resources—including the use of a producer or assistant—for those engaged in online presentations.
Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt, in Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace: Effective Strategies for the Online Classroom, address online communication in an academic setting and offer plenty of guidance adaptable to general web-conferencing practices. The “Learning Community in Cyberspace” section includes tips on defining and redefining community and managing the technology, and the “Building an Electronic Learning Community” section walks readers through the process of building foundations for effective online learning interactions and ways of promoting collaborative learning.
Those interested in adapting effective online presentation skills into web-conferencing will find plenty of ideas by combining what they know with what they find in print and online; through the use of strong imagery with limited amounts of text on PowerPoint slides; and through explorations of what makes ideas memorable rather than ephemeral.
With these tools and resources in hand, we are well prepared to join and further develop our web-conferencing skills in ways which strengthen the communities we so desperately seek and so deeply cherish.
For help with improving online presentation skills, please view the online training resources at Paul Signorelli & Associates or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to share your own recommendations on web-conferencing and presentation-skills resources, please join the conversation by posting a comment here.