As we continue to find our way through the world of virtual delivery, one thing remains consistent: Adults do not like sitting for long periods of time… period! Exactly how long adults can sit for in a training situation is constantly being debated, but it’s safe to say it’s somewhere between 35 and 55 minutes.
In the world of live delivery, there are some pretty, easy fixes for this issue:
- Presenters can mix up their delivery techniques from lecture, to facilitation, to peer training, and more.
- Presenters can’t take breaks every 35 to 55 minutes, but they can add small group exercises, role-plays, and a host of other ideas that will physically move attendees around. Those physical movements aren’t a break, but they’re the next best thing.
Ah, but now it’s the dawn of virtual delivery. The presenter can no longer rely on the most valuable tool in a presenter’s arsenal – physical movement. Fear not, because the next best thing, “mental movement,” is available!
Here are three, simple examples:
- Breakout rooms. When you move individuals into smaller groups to accomplish tasks, the attendees might not be physically moving, but they are mentally moving. Attendees are meeting new people, tackling new tasks, and being mentally stimulated.
- When you launch a poll, the attendees might not be physically moving, but they are mentally moving. Attendees are being drawn back to their keyboards, performing a small physical task, and being mentally stimulated.
- Sharing screens. When you share your screen to show slides, pictures, virtual whiteboards, videos, and more, once again, the attendees might not be physically moving, but they are mentally moving. Attendees are being refocused to their screens, utilizing more than just the sense of sound, and being mentally stimulated.
There are a handful of other common ideas, but you’ll notice one classic thing that’s missing: PowerPoint. Yes, PowerPoint is a visual aid that will stimulate mental movement, but remember this: When that PowerPoint is being shared, the presenter is now relegated to a small portion of the screen. He or she is the size of a postage stamp. Some slides are good, but for the most part, presenters are going to have to work with far fewer of them. Too many slides, or having those slides on the screen too long, will actually contribute to boredom rather than relieve it.
Now that I’ve made a pitch for mental movement, there is one, final technique that will help to hold attendees when meetings are longer than an hour. I’m a fan of quick, five-minute breaks. I’m fully aware that doing these might risk losing some of your virtual attendees to other tasks, but I have a secret weapon; a break slide. On that slide I have a five-minute, countdown timer, with music playing. Without it, attendees will truly try and get back on time, but often, people tend to want to attack one or two extra tasks that have been building up. With the timer, you will be surprised how many attendees will keep an eye on the screen and hustle back. In a sense, the timer acts as the attendee’s conscience.
Yes, it’s the dawn of virtual deliveries, and one of the casualties is attendee physical movement. However, mental movement is the next best thing, and with planning and practice, you’ll continue to hold the attention of your attendees just like you did live and in person!