This week we are going to start to take a look at the essentials of virtual facilitation. As more and more professionals start to operate in the virtual domain it is important to develop not only skills but also confidence in building connection with remote staff, facilitating meetings, and transitioning most activities.
Four core skills in virtual facilitation include:
Reading the environment - Even though you may not be physically present in a room, great virtual leaders and facilitators, are able to read the environment. There is a much to be said through the way people are speaking - their pace and how fast they are speaking; the pitch or level at which they speak.
Part of reading the environment is also noticing the overall energy of the call. I think we can all recollect times when meeting energy was very low (what I often call the "Death By Conference Call") Or when meeting energy was very high.
Next time you are in a virtual meeting, think about how you would describe the energy of the call.
Listening - In virtual environments listening is critical. We want to be listening for the speech patterns, but also what is being said and not being said. Notice the flow of conversation, who is dominating and who his holding back.
Managing the process - In virtual facilitation a strong hand on process can go far. Given that we often don't have the same cues as in the face to face environment, it's important for the leader or facilitator to take a strong hand with process - time allocated, agenda items, making sure you are starting and ending on time, clarifying decisions and where you are going to next.
Engagement - Virtual Meetings can feel never ending. It's important to engage people throughout the call. Design with the group what engagement can look like (for example, an expectation that you will hear from everyone) etc. In a future post I'll explore different engagement techniques for virtual meetings.
If you are interested in learning more, and getting more experience with virtual facilitation, I'll be hosting the Virtual facilitation Skills intensive, an online train-the-trainer, on Thursdays from 12 - 3 pm ET for five weeks from February 4 - March 4th. I hope that you will consider joining me for this immersive online program. We'll be exploring facilitation on many different platforms - from bridgelines, to skype, to zoom and webinars. More information about the program here. Register with a colleague and save 15% on your registrations.
Have a great start to your week,
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