Cynthia Clay's Blog

What Does Soccer Have to Do With It?

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Like many people, I watched the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, staying up late or getting up early to catch my favorite athletes or just to see thrilling sports events live. As a soccer lover on the West coast, I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. to watch the US Women’s soccer team get soundly defeated by Sweden. And I set my alarm to 4:00 a.m. to yawn through a lackluster game the US played against Australia (It ended with a 0-0 tie that made me wish I’d slept instead). Watching the US team clinch a victory over the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, an extremely close game that ended with penalty kicks, I felt exhilarated even at 6:00 a.m. I experienced a gauntlet of emotions in that week: anxiety, despair, frustration, boredom, elation, and exhilaration!

So, what does soccer have to do with virtual training?

1.  Participants in your virtual instructor-led training sessions need to feel something!

What they feel is almost entirely up to you. Are you going to show up, fully prepared and ready to deliver the training with energy and passion? Will you make it safe for people to participate fully and share their ideas and opinions? Are there opportunities to create a playful, competitive experience that engages everyone? How can you help them to feel inspired and energized at the end of the virtual training experience?

Our emotional state is hugely important when we put ourselves on camera, ready to explain, motivate, and encourage. Positive emotions result in reciprocal positivity.

2.  Practice everything to anchor it in your bones.

In soccer, teams practice what are called “set pieces.” These are opportunities that give the team a chance to score a goal. Corner kicks allow the team to kick the ball into play from a corner of the field near the goal. Free kicks often occur after a foul is called. A skilled team practices moving into a competitive position when the ball is kicked into play.

When we deliver virtual instructor-led training, a “set piece” might be putting participants into breakout rooms. The best virtual production teams practice setting up the breakout room, moving people into the breakout sessions, sending messages to everyone, and bringing everyone safely home without losing anyone in cyberspace. Practicing each step repeatedly before the online learning experience anchors the breakout room process in your bones (your kinesthetic memory).

3.  It’s always the first time.

The US lost their quarterfinal game to Canada, the team who eventually won the gold medal. Watching their uneven performance, I couldn’t help but wonder if trying to recreate or capture their previous glory as World Cup and Olympic gold medal winners hindered them in their attempt to win gold again.

We do the same thing to ourselves when we deliver a course repeatedly in the virtual classroom. We forget that for our participants, this is the first time they’ve taken the course, and everything is new to them. Great facilitators stop commenting on what past courses have been like and stay in the moment with the current crop of learners. They bring “Beginner’s Mind” to the online synchronous event, expecting to learn a lot from their participants. When facilitating online learning, they co-create the learning experience with their attendees. It feels like the first time for everyone exploring the learning content together.

If you’d like more tips on virtual training, download “That’s Using Your Noggin’: Brain-based Principles in the Virtual Classroom” and see how an understanding of neuroscience inspires better online learning.

Posted by Cynthia Clay at 9:46 am

Four Ways Producers Make a Difference in the Virtual Classroom

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

At NetSpeed Learning, we are strong advocates of using a Producer (sometimes called a Host) to produce virtual events. While it may seem cost-effective to allow a trainer or facilitator to “fly solo”, the reality is that a bad experience with technology can ruin an event. Flustered facilitators may find their performance plummets. Instead of listening to technical troubleshooting questions, annoyed participants find more important tasks such as checking email or cruising a website. Technology will always present challenges, but a skilled virtual training producer can help navigate the difficulties.

Recently I was delivering a webinar for a client with 60 attendees. At the start of the event, the web platform (a recently updated version) crashed four times in the space of 20 minutes. Because I was collaborating with an experienced producer, the attendees had a seamless experience anyway. I was able to quickly reconnect each time. As my audio resumed, I could hear the producer calmly continuing the discussion, debriefing a chat, or analyzing poll responses. At one point, I could see the chat messages, but I could not advance the slides. I simply asked the producer to advance the slide and continued to present until things cleared up. My producer knew all about hosting a virtual event.

Here are four ways skilled a virtual training producer can make a difference in the digital world.

Limit Wasted Time

A single minute of wasted time online can feel like five to a remote audience. A virtual trainer who must stop the online experience to troubleshoot one individual participant’s audio or visual experience wastes time for everyone. The result? Participants begin multitasking or worse, sign off from the learning event and get on with their work.

Provide a Higher Quality Learning Experience

I have delivered thousands of web workshops and virtual events. I can say with certainty that I am a much better presenter and facilitator if I am not worried about all the technical details at the same time that I am delivering a virtual instructor-led training experience. I am free to engage, connect, inform, and motivate. Free your trainers to do their best work with participants and turn the technical problems over to a producer.

Avoid Cancelling Virtual Events

There is nothing worse than assembling an audience of eager participants who have booked a training event on their calendars, and then telling them you must reschedule due to technical difficulties. A producer for virtual training can back up the presenter whose computer has frozen or crashed. If the producer is in another location, they can continue hosting a virtual event, collaborating with the presenter who may be looking at their slide deck and guiding the event over a cell phone. Our motto is, “The show must go on!”

Creating Variety and Interest

We often call on our producers to do more than solve technical problems. We may ask them to read an example, roleplay with the virtual facilitator, or take turns debriefing chat discussions. Hearing a second voice can add variety and create engagement. Participants report that they perk up at the sound of a second voice. Give the producer permission to point out questions posed in chat that the facilitator may have missed, or to indicate that someone has raised their hand. This collaborative way of presenting is more interesting to participants and creates greater confidence in the virtual experience.

For more virtual facilitation best practices, download our ebook
Great Web Engagement: Connecting, Meeting and Training Online.

This ebook is for anyone who delivers virtual instructor-led training and wants to know more about how to facilitate virtual training.

Posted by Cynthia Clay at 2:51 pm

Prepare Your Learners to Participate Fully in the Virtual Classroom

Thursday, May 27, 2021

by Cynthia Clay
Originally Published by Training Industry

A colleague shared a screen shot of a recent Zoom session he led for a client. In the center of the screen was a blissfully ignorant participant who had logged into the training session on one laptop (with the camera turned on). She had turned her back to that web camera and was using a second computer to check her email.

You could argue that if someone is going to pretend to participate in a virtual workshop, they should probably know whether their web camera is on or off! However, there is more going on in this example of poor participation. We’ve paid a lot of attention to whether the virtual facilitator or trainer is prepared to fully engage attention in the virtual classroom. This article, on the other hand, focuses how you can prepare virtual participants. When you invite them to attend a virtual meeting or training session, you can help them show up at their best in these four areas: goals and objectives, technical readiness, web camera use and full presence.

1.      Goals and Objectives



Posted by Cynthia Clay at 8:05 am

Good News ... with Prizes!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

We are celebrating two big events here at NetSpeed Learning, and we are tickled pink to share them with you. They come with prizes!

First, we have launched our new website. To thank you for taking a peek, the first three people who find the gift box icon on one of the web pages and email us will receive a $25 Amazon gift certificate.

Just email Cynthia Clay and provide a screen shot of the web page. Or you can copy and paste the URL for the web page into your email. We will announce our three winners in the June newsletter.

Second, we have just completed the third revision of the NetSpeed Leadership® management development program for new and emerging leaders. That’s right – all 24 topics for face-to-face and virtual delivery have been updated to reflect more inclusive language, updated case studies, and newer graphic images.

If you would like a preview of NetSpeed Leadership®, email Tim Jones, Senior Learning Consultant, and tell him which two modules you would like to preview.

We will reward you and your organization with a 20% discount on any program purchase made through September 30, 2021.

Posted by Cynthia Clay at 11:11 am