If you think it’s hard to engage people in a regular classroom, you can imagine how difficult it becomes in a virtual environment. Distractions abound, and as in any learning situation, your audience can be easily lost to thoughts about errands to run, things to do and generally anything other than the topic at hand. Through application of some basic teaching and presentation skills, you can successfully engage home-based agents in a virtual classroom setting.
Keep It Focused
Multiple topics, no goals and a scattered presentation are an effective way to lose your agents’ attention. Design your lesson with a clear topical focus and objective. By keeping the lesson focused, the same information can be presented in multiple ways for effective knowledge transfer and retention.
Use Powerful, Interactive Presentations
It’s not just how the material is designed and delivered; the presentation also needs to be engaging. (Remember the teacher that you had in high school that just droned on…and on…and on? That’s who you want to aspire not to be.) Enthusiasm is contagious; if you’re not excited about it, why would your audience be? And ask questions to encourage active participation and discussion.
Because your agents will be looking at a screen during the lesson, the content needs to be visually clear, yet interesting. PowerPoint presentations are one vehicle for information; they are easy to create and to be creative with. Large blocks of text are difficult to read; try bulleted lists instead. Use an image to illustrate a point, instead of words on screen. Multimedia such as videos can be added for additional visual interest. But be careful; there’s a fine line between interesting and overboard.
Make Learning Fun
Get people excited so they’ll want to learn. Contests and games can both impart information as well as check for understanding. Play music to emphasize a point or for a silly “get loose” break. Don’t forget to laugh!
Recognition is also part of the fun. Use on-the-spot kudos to recognize a right answer or correct knowledge use during the lesson. Sending an email is a quick way to give someone a pat on the back for improvement. Positive praise, or as we say, “Woo hoo!” goes a long way.