Virtual meetings often make it easier for more attendees to participate in a session, but there is often a trade-off in terms of efficiency or quality. Have you ever experienced a conference call or virtual session that didn’t quite meet the mark?
The Flipped Classroom
In training and education, the “flipped classroom” approach describes an instructional tactic in which presenters change the sequence of instruction so that most of the presentation of content (i.e. lecture) takes place at home and in advance of classroom time. This frees up class time for discussion, problem-solving, and collaborative activities that truly benefit from the presence of peers and instructors.
Taking the same concept, why not trim out all of our virtual meeting content that is purely information to be conveyed? You could repackage this content in the form of a report, email, or advance organizer for the meeting and then use the meeting time to focus on items that actually benefit from real-time discussion and collaboration. Although it’s hard to break from the routine of regular meetings, sometimes we find that we actually need fewer meetings….
To Flip Your Virtual Event, Try:
- Preparing for feedback and challenges in advance. Learn about your key participants, surveying them if it makes sense, to help you develop relevant preparatory documents for the event. Send out an agenda in advance and provide a format for commenting. For some projects, I like creating a template in Google Docs and allowing comments or direct edits.
- Assigning work in advance. Sure, it’s hard to change expectations about what’s expected, but if your culture supports this idea (or you’re in a position of authority to enforce it), it can be a game-changer. Do you want participants to reflect on a key issue? Bring their 3 best ideas? Interview a colleague? Set the stage for active participation during the event by requesting it before you even start.
- Mastering the technology. Make sure you’re proficient with your web conferencing tools, and provide opportunities for participants to practice and troubleshoot their systems in advance. You definitely don’t want your presenters or participants worrying about how they look on a webcam or whether people can hear them through digital vocie or a phone bridge during the event.
- Promoting active collaboration during the event. Since participants already know what will be discussed, they should be more prepared to weigh in, and if we’re not really interested in that to begin with, then why are we taking up everyone’s time with a meeting? Find ways for collaboration whether it be through audio, chat, whiteboarding, polling, or any other virtual tool that’s effective.
- Providing continuity of information. One of the major advantages of working in a virtual format is the ease of recording the content. Make it easy for those that missed your session by providing a recording, backup documents, and minutes. For ease of access, hang it with the rest of your sessions on a departmental website.