NetSpeed Learning Solutions February 2020
Preparation and Practice
Are Your Keys to Success
You may have heard the old joke, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Answer: "Practice, practice, practice!"
When planning to deliver any web-based learning program, preparation and practice are the keys to success. I'm getting ready for my next talk at the ATD Tech Knowledge Conference in San Jose. By the time you read this, I might be delivering my talk face-to-face because the conference is scheduled February 5 - 7, 2020.
This year, I decided to add a polling app to my presentation. I love polling when I use it in webinars and virtual learning. It's such a fast way to "read the webinar room." It gives all participants the chance to be engaged and to add their opinions and thoughts. I confess that I have rarely used a technology tool for polling during a live, face-to-face talk. When I've tried out software in the past, I've been less than satisfied with the results. Instead of asking people to raise their hands (ten seconds), we've stumbled through the technical steps to open a poll, collect responses, and then display them (two minutes). Often, I've bailed out on asking more than one question because it was just too clunky and slow.
This year, I decided to try out a new application, Poll Everywhere. I downloaded it and tried out a demonstration a couple of months ago. It was easy! I planned my polling questions and then left my final preparation until a few days before the conference. There was a time in my life, when I might have finished my preparation the morning before the conference. But working in the virtual learning space has drilled into my brain that I should give myself enough time to troubleshoot technical problems, if they occur, rather than assume it's going to be smooth sailing.
I added my polling questions to my presentation on my desktop and practiced answering them just as my participants will do, both through web browsers and through their cell phones. I practiced all the steps I will need to take when I'm live in front of my audience. I even intentionally made errors that might be made by my participants. Then I invited a couple of people on my team to use the polling feature as well. Everything worked smoothly.
Fortunately, as my confidence was growing, I realized that I needed to transfer the presentation to the laptop I would be using at the conference. And that's where things got more interesting and a little bit frustrating. What had worked the first time on my desktop computer required some technical trouble shooting to accomplish on my laptop. After several failed attempts to download the software, I finally figured out what might be blocking the installation, made a couple of changes, and got it integrated with PowerPoint. After an hour of frustration, that was a huge relief. I was grateful that I hadn't left that final step until the last minute sitting in my hotel room!
In the virtual and face-to-face classrooms, preparation and practice are the keys to calm, focused success. That's a lesson I will also explore in my talk, "Become a Jedi Master: Producing Webinars in the Virtual Classroom" at the ATD Tech Knowledge conference on Wednesday, February 5. If you are planning to attend, please come see me and introduce yourself.

If you can't be there, please join me for our next complimentary webinar, MAGIC! Five Secrets of Stellar Virtual Trainers, on Wednesday, February 26, 1:00 pm ET / 10:00 am PT.
Cynthia Clay signature
Cynthia Clay
Preparation and Practice in the Hybrid World
Recently I delivered a Train-the-Trainer workshop for an enthusiastic group of five facilitators working for a new client who has licensed our NetSpeed Leadership program (for new supervisors and managers). I enjoyed the experience because I love to learn, explore, and try out new solutions.
We decided that we would conduct the TTT workshop virtually rather than having me travel onsite. No problem, I'm very comfortable in the virtual classroom. I prepared two sessions, each two and a half hours long, and led them on two consecutive days. The trainers met together in a conference room in Louisiana and I attended virtually from Seattle. I was on web camera in an Adobe Connect meeting. They were not. They were dialed in on one phone bridge which was broadcast so we could all hear each other. If we'd had more time to prepare before the first two virtual sessions, I would have made sure that they could be on camera too. It was awkward for me to train such a small group for five hours but not be able to see them. Lesson learned. I knew we needed to do it differently for the final step in the process.
In our trainer certification workshops, we ask trainers to deliver a 30-minute training segment (a trainback) from one of our programs. They engage their colleagues and receive feedback on their delivery. When we are certifying trainers to deliver in the face-to-face classroom, one of our Master Trainers is usually onsite to work with them and give feedback. But in this situation, we wanted to accomplish the same result without anyone of us travelling to them.
Our client set up a video camera in the training room that could be focused both on the front of the room where each trainer would present, as well as turned to record the trainers when they were giving feedback. We hooked the video camera up so that it could be played through Adobe Connect. That way I could be on web camera and they could see me. And I would be able to conduct the trainback session remotely. They displayed the Adobe Connect meeting room with the presenter's PowerPoint slide deck on the screen behind them. Each presenter used the forward and back keys to keep us on the right slide in their presentation. I quickly realized that I needed to freeze my camera when the trainer was presenting. My image was right over their shoulder looking down on them from the projection screen. That was distracting for everyone, including me!
When I wanted to add my two cents as a participant in the trainback session, I would unfreeze my camera and raise my hand. After 30 minutes of delivery time, each trainer then received 15 minutes of feedback from their colleagues. At that point, we turned the camera to face the conference room, so all the trainers could be seen in the video pod in Adobe Connect, with me on camera as well. While it wasn't a perfect solution (I would hear what they were saying a split second before their lips would move which was a tad bit disconcerting), it was a successful hybrid experience.
One of the keys to success of this hybrid session was that we conducted a dry run the day before the trainback experience and tested everything we could think of. Do you see a theme to this newsletter? Our motto in the face-to-face, virtual, and hybrid classrooms is, "Leave nothing to chance." If you ever think to yourself, "What could possibly go wrong?" remember that the technology gremlins are a clever bunch. Don't give them a chance to get the upper hand!
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