Many coaches have virtual offerings – whether it’s a one-on-one coaching call, a virtual retreat or virtual group coaching session. In the virtual space, trust and connection are even more important than usual. And another key factor is creating many engagement points; rather than being talked at, most clients want to be at the center of the conversation. In this article we look at 8 ways you can build in trust, connection and engagement to your virtual coaching calls.
Editor’s Note: These tips are great if you run teleseminars, Facebook Lives (we picked up some great ideas for us to use!) and even your in-person Workshops!
Start by Setting Expectations!
When looking to create a WOW call, it’s important to shape expectations that your call is going to be different. So, let people know in advance they can expect something different! This will disrupt what clients might expect to be another “death by conference call” – with a low-energy “talking head” presenter, leading to a disconnected multi-tasking experience.
But we don’t just want to signal that the call is going to be different. We also want to deliver on it!
So, Here are 8 Ways You Can Create a WOW Virtual Group Call!
How will you tweak your next virtual event to create a more engaging experience? Here are 8 ideas to help you:
1. Put Your Members Front and Center
Help people consider the WIIFM of the call (What’s in it for me?) for themselves early on. You can do this simply by asking something like, “What do you want to get out of this call today?”
If it’s a group call, also create shared expectations. Invite your group members to share, and shape, what’s important about the topic for them.
2. Capture attention quickly
It’s often said that you have 7 seconds to make a first impression. So, what’s going to get people’s attention on your WOW call? Here are 3 ideas to quickly capture their attention:
- Are you going to get people involved right away by asking them to type something in the chat box?
- Perhaps you will share a ‘content’ piece which captures attention such as a photo or video?
- You could also tell a powerful and engaging story related to the topic/goals of the call to draw people in.
3. Leverage Silence
We live in a hyper-driven world, so create regular pauses for people to reflect, take notes, create an action plan and schedule their next steps.
Tip: When you do this, provide clear instructions on what you are inviting people to do – and avoid awkward silences!
4. Use Breakouts
We tend to get lost in larger groups, and many people are eager to ‘meet’ one or two more people. So leverage breakouts where possible.
In “Breakouts that Sizzle”, one of the community calls for my book Effective Virtual Conversations, I explore different ways you might use breakouts. Four examples of ways to use breakouts include to:
- Help people find common ground
- Explore an area of shared interest
- Talk through their next steps
- Gain insights and perspective by sharing their focus with each other
5. Consider Visual Anchor Points
Our brain processes visuals faster than words. Consider how you can create visual ‘anchor’ points to create an additional foundation for learning. These might include a photo, graphics or a visual metaphor. Visuals also increase the impact of any stories you might choose to tell.
6. Take the Pulse of the Call
Do a “temperature check” along the way, building in several pulse checks. This allows you to make changes as you go, and keep engagement levels high for a WOW call! Ideas include:
- Asking people to share their energy level through an emoji
- Getting attendees to write their engagement level “out of 10” on the screen
- You could also use polls and the chat function to find out what your group wants – and what they are finding useful with the call
7. Create Real-Time Engagement
Get people active, and create learning and connection in “Real Time”. It’s great to do this by involving people in something they can see on their virtual screen. For example:
- Annotation – get people to note things they’ve learned on the screen themselves. For those kinaesthetically oriented, annotation is a powerful way to get engagement.
- Have a map and ask people to put a dot on the map to show where they are calling in from.
- Share one of their ideas on the white board – write it on there in real-time so everyone can see it. This is a great way to offer validation to participants.
- Put a checkmark beside the topic they want to explore – or circle the skills they use. This personalises the learning experience for them!
Please Note: These options will depend on the facilities available to you, and on the virtual platform you are using.
8. Leave Time to “Do it Now!”
One of the sub-components of the ICF’s “Designing Actions” competency is “Do it now”. Some ways to “Do it now” for your WOW group call include:
- Have people schedule items for follow up
- Working on a task – now- and getting it completed in a short amount of time
- Making a note of their top 3 action steps
As you review this article ask yourself what can you put into place to make your next virtual session stand out? What ideas above connected with you? How do you want your next call to be remembered?
For more information: If you already have a copy of Jennifer’s 2017 book, Effective Virtual Conversations, refer to Chapter 5 (Design) or Chapter 7 (Activities and Engagement in the Virtual Space).
While you may need to explore and learn several of these yourself consider joining Jennifer for an
upcoming Virtual Facilitation Essentials program (5 weeks – 8.5 CCEs).
Contributing author: Jennifer Britton is the author of five books including the Coaching Business Builder Workbook and Planner (2018), Effective Group Coaching and From One To Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching. Jennifer provides a wide range of supports for coaches, and other professionals who are working with teams and groups. From 1-1 coaching around signature programs, to the Conversation Sparker Deck to the 40 Ways to Work with Visual Cards, she’s committed to helping coaches create engaging and impactful work with the teams and groups they support, while creating a thriving business. Visit her online at https://www.groupcoachingessentials.ca
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