As Learning & Development professionals, we are all under pressure at this moment to ensure that we’re meeting the needs of our organization despite the inability to conduct training the way we normally have. As Covid-19 causes organizations to segregate employees, work from home, conduct business meetings virtually and take other containment measures, while still ensuring business continuity, our skills as trainers and trainers can really come in handy.
The fact is that nobody in your organization is as well-positioned, or prepared, to lead in this moment as are those who work regularly in the learning environment. Your organization can look to you to show them how to lead online meetings, facilitate the virtual environment and create dynamic, interesting and useful meetings. This is our moment to shine.
But to do this we have to ensure that our own skills are on point. There are three important areas to think about when we are presenting facilitating or meeting online: Communication Skills, Interpersonal Skills and managing the Web Tool we’re using.
- Communication Skills
As training professionals, we know that we need to both what we say as well as the Paraverbal Skills that are an important part of all spoken communications. The use of your voice (speed, pitch, volume, clarity) are even more critical. And if you’re leading a conversation where your video is off due to network capacity, then this is a hundred times more important. Part of this too, is that your own visual cues, your ability to look around the room and read what’s going on, which are second nature to trainers, are severely impacted by these tools. As good as the tools are, they can’t replicate the ability to see and feel what’s going on with your participants (boredom, frustration, curiosity, confusion, attention etc.) As a result, you have to make an effort to replace these inputs. This means asking questions, prompting feedback, pausing and allowing for questions, inviting people to use the tool’s functions to send notes and so on.
- Interpersonal Skills
One of the functions of meetings at work (whether we admit it or not) is a social gathering and bonding moment for our teams. Take a few moments to ensure that we have chance to socialise at the beginning of a meeting. If it’s a new team, and if time allows, give participants a chance to introduce themselves and create a context for themselves with the rest of the group. Don’t just leap into the meeting agenda. Pay attention too, to who is speaking up and who’s hiding out. Because….
- Web-Tool Management
….we have to ensure that our colleagues who are working remotely, are included in conversation and have a chance to provide input. As trainers, we are often loathe to force participation in a training. It can put people on the spot and make them uncomfortable. But in an online meeting or training environment, it’s too easy to sit back and zone out. If you are leading a meeting or training it is important to, first, set expectations as to the level of attention and participation your event will require and, second, make sure that people live up to it. Zoom, WebEx, Skype for Business, Hangout, GoToMeeting and other tools have some very good functionality for trainers or meeting leaders to create a dynamic environment. Explore your organization’s tool and use the functionality to make sure that you don’t produce boring meetings. You can usually break into smaller groups for discussion on topics, add polls to get feedback, whiteboards, chat boxes and more. Learn your tool and make the most of it. Meeting and training online is harder than in person, but it’s not an excuse to produce boring meetings, or ineffective training that results from a lackadaisical approach to management
If we do this if we can be the leaders in our organizations on how to use the technology we really stand to be seen as essential to the success of the business in a very trying time. Feel free to comment on how you see your skills as a Learning & Development professional being critical to the success of your organization during this time period.