by Nagesh Sharma a Management 3.0 Facilitator
This is the first of a two part series by Nagesh on leading a virtual class like a pro
Are you working remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak? Are you looking for some tips and tactics to lead virtual training for your teams?
Based on the lessons learned from attending and leading virtual sessions, I am very humbled to create an experience report to help my fellow colleagues from the Agile and Scrum community to lead live virtual classes like a professional.
The 5 ‘P’s: Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
Preparation is key: In order to deliver the best in class experience for my students, I focused a lot on preparation. This includes many things such as preparing the setup including: Hardware, Software, and Tools.
Here are 20 quick things to consider when preparing for your virtual class:
#1: Mac book connected with an extra big monitor, so I can view two screens at a time. I have always found dual monitors being more productive.
#2: iPad with Apple Pencil for sketching during the sessions. Any other tablet would do for that matter like Microsoft surface.
#3: Flipcharts with markers: I am also a visual facilitator and hence I used flipcharts extensively during my sessions, which turned out to be the most loved part of the virtual training.
#4: Apple mouse was a saviour at times when I wanted to drag and drop things, especially into the whiteboard.
#5: Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone with condensers. Thanks to a dear friend or suggesting this.
#6: Good quality headphones, I have an old pair but they are still working very well wired Bose headphones.
#7: Additional webcam to focus on the Flipchart, instead of a separate webcam, I converted my iPhone into a webcam. There are many tools that can do this however, I found Epoccam very useful.
#8: A solid high-speed internet connection. I also used Speedify, which can bond any combination of Internet connections and will intelligently distribute your online traffic between them for optimal organizational performance.
#9: Very good light: I experimented with changing my work desk thrice to ensure there is proper light. I placed my desk near the window to take advantage of the natural light as nothing can beat that, and then I had the correct placement of artificial lights with some extra lamps just in case if I need them.
#10: An adjustable laptop stand to ensure there is a proper ergonomic posture.
#11: An ergonomically designed chair, I have one from IKEA that is very comfortable.
#12: Some sort of timer, like a stopwatch/alarm timer or a virtual clock for time boxing sessions.
#13: Props like a ringing bell or tingsha bells to grab the attention of your students. A rugby ball can be used as a metaphor with Scrum or books, or anything physical that you think might be helpful for your audience.
#14: Video conferencing tools: The features I was looking at were primarily a tool that supports: good streaming of audio and video, break-out rooms for exercises, screen sharing and ease of use. I experimented with many tools like Adobe Connect, Microsoft teams, Bluejeans, Goto Training, and Zoom. Finally, I decided to go with Zoom. However, I kept Goto as a backup for the video conferencing just in case I need it.
#15: Creating a slack channel for every LVC can be extremely helpful for just in time communication, especially when someone accidentally leaves the online meeting. They can then reach out to the host via a chat app. I created two co-hosts for the zoom sessions. If accidentally the host drops off, then the co-host can manage the situation until the host rejoins. It also helps during the breakout sessions.
#16: A virtual realtime whiteboard: For this, I experimented with Google docs, Jamboard, Miro and Mural. I finally went ahead with Mural, as its also recommended by many of my colleagues.
#17: Preparing Murals in advance, one main mural with the course content and one with common exercises and separate team murals, so they can work in their breakout rooms. This has helped us have smooth use of the murals, becuase otherwise it could experience lag, if too many people access the same mural and there are chances of over riding each other’s work.
#18: Hiding upcoming exercises in the Murals is helpful to retain the focus of the participants as they might be very curious to find the upcoming exercises instead of focusing on the current ones. Having a backup of murals either in Miro or Google docs can be a saviour when the service provider is down for maintenance.
#19: Being yourself: I also learned to be natural and not limit myself to the tools. My strength is visual facilitation, hence I leveraged my strengths while explaining the practices. If you are good at something, this is the time to tap into your potential and leverage your gifts.
#20: I always do a short prep session with participants prior to the main training session, so that they are well aware of the web conferencing and white boarding tools that will be used during the training. Also, I utilize the prep session to create working agreements for the session.
Photo credit: Nagesh Sharma