Tip #960: How to Get Virtual Participants to Participate

It’s no fun if your virtual participants are tuning out and even leaving before the end of the session. Before you get angry at them, perhaps it would be wise to consider what you might be doing, or not doing, that is causing that behavior. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Make them feel welcome. Greet them by name, have them introduce themselves, be enthusiastic yourself, smile, and even play music.
  2. Set the stage for participation. Provide a workbook for notes and reference material. Point out the participatory nature of the program. Request that they stay on camera. Explain that each participant will be expected to report their key take away at the end of the session.
  3. Get them talking to other participants right away. Give them a content-related question to discuss in a breakout room. It might be as simple as “What is the one thing that will make this session worthwhile for you?”
  4. Prime them to participate. Ask common ground questions to which they can raise their virtual hands. Have them annotate the learning objectives that are most important to them. Get their buy-in by asking them what the benefits are of learning the content.
  5. Incorporate active learning activities every 5-10 minutes. Use a variety of activities and limit lecturettes. Make sure your directions are very clear and debrief the activities.
  6. Keep in mind that virtual training is visual. Change slides every minute or so. Make the slides colorful and interesting, more pictures than text. Use at least a 28” size font and limit the amount of text on each slide.
  7. Check in. Frequently ask participants “What are your questions?” Also, ask for their reactions, either by showing a digital thumb up or down, or by rating the program at breaks from 1 to 5 in chat. 
  8. Hold them accountable. At the end of the session, place participants in breakout rooms to report what they plan to do differently as a result of what they learned. Popcorn their key take away reports in the larger group.

In summary, to keep virtual participants actively engaged, be enthusiastic, prime them to participate, let them know they’ll be reporting their key take away, keep them visually stimulated, and constantly involve them in a variety of different interactive learning activities.

Join us at First Aid for New Trainers on February 1st at 3 pm CST when the topic will be “When Not to Lecture.” Registration is at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/first-aid-for-new-trainers-tickets-492093273227

May your learning be sweet- and safe.


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