Friday, June 19, 2009

Polling: More Than Just Q&A

On the surface, polling is way for a web conferencing facilitator to ask questions of the audience and gather responses. Often you may choose to open a web conference with opening or introductory polls. Responses to polls about tenure at an organization or native language provide the facilitator with essential information about the background of the audience to help guide the session.

Polling can also be used creatively to support learning objectives. For example if you want to explore a web site with your audience, turn this activity into a scavenger hunt by posting a poll or two with “quiz” question. Then ask the audience to search the web site for answers to the poll questions. If you plan to share statistics or data, an interesting way to engage the audience is to pose questions about the data prior to revealing it. After the audience has a chance to respond to a poll on data, display the poll results juxtaposed against the actual data. Integrating polls into the content of your session using these techniques is a great way to maintain the interest of the audience and support your learning objectives at the same time.

If polling is a topic that you would like to explore in depth, join me for a free web conference on Best Practices for Polling on Tuesday June 23, 2009 from 1-2 PM Eastern Time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Teaching Soft Skills: Not “Can We?” But “How Do We?”

After speaking at the ASTD conference in DC this week, I was discussing with a few conference attendees whether or not you can successfully teach soft skills on a web conference. We exchanged a few good ideas including a suggestion from a participant to incorporate video.

The discussion made me realize that it’s not a question of “can” but “how” we teach soft skills. With more than 137 workers worldwide involved in some sort of teleworking, a huge number of managers and others have to be able to give performance feedback or inspire others to follow his/her leadership virtually. Teaching these soft skills in a physical classroom is important, however when we teach these skills in a virtual classroom we simulate the real situation that many people face every day. The tools that virtual teams generally have at their disposal are the telephone and email, so they need to be taught how to deliver the appropriate messages verbally over the phone or in written communication.

Pairing up participants to role play, scripting role plays, and asking participants to type a sample sentence for an email in the chat are just a few of the ways that we can simulate the situations for participants and make the virtual classroom reflect the reality of millions of workers.