Effective, interactive video-conferences, webinars, online eLearning. 3-minutes guide
Covid-2019 is tough, for work, education, socially.
I attended online eLearning courses, gave online lectures, attended thousands of video-conferences. Here is my 3-min. guide on what works.
Raising attention online
Raising and retaining attention is much more difficult online. What works:
- Simulate the normal physical environment as much as possible.
- Keep eye contact with the camera - not with your screen, not to your slides or notes.
- Position your webcam at eye-level. Position your text-to-read immediately under the camera, so that even if you are reading text or something, the audience would still have the impression you are looking at them.
- If there is a panel, only the speaker should look at the audience; the rest of the panelists should look at the speaker.
- Tone, pronunciation, pace.
- Maximize signal = useful voice, visual, images.
- Reduce communication noise.
- Eliminate heavy backgrounds, sounds, images. A white blank background is great. A heavy background (books, pictures) is noise.
- Slides are much too often noise or redundant.
- Use visual props.
- Always use your webcam.
- Combine and switch between video and slides. Don’t fully replace your face with slides (except for short periods, when the slides are actually useful).
- Too much visual/text is noise; so don't exaggerate with visual props. Not too much text on slides, never read slides, don’t use animations, keep slides simple and clean (these are standard tips for any presentation).
- Use jokes, surprise/spontaneity tricks, “unprepared” moments, to engage the audience.
- It takes a lot of practice to be natural.
- Visual contact increases interactivity - so use your webcam.
- Allow the audience to ask questions (depending on their size). Encourage them to participate.
- Allow the audience to use online collaboration features, e.g. raise hands, chat, voice, voting.
- Live vs. pre-recorded webinar and moments.
- Location, set, background – don’t be too personal, e.g. home setting.
- Technical videoconferencing tool, features to be used.
- Test connectivity and tools.
Consider the technology constraints and opportunities:
- What interactivity features are available.
- Bandwidth issues: reduce video quality, eliminate video if needed, use low quality video or slides if needed.
- Screen size and resolution. Smart-phone users cannot read small text when sharing slides.
Online is challenging, but also offers opportunities
- Remote participation, large number of participants.
- Collaboration features: chat, app. sharing, voting, quizzes, shared whiteboards, shared docs, video recording,
- Even very fancy stuff such as automated generation of subtitles, text transcripts, or translation.
Enjoy your webinar, and stay safe.