Online it’s easy for participants to turn their attention elsewhere. If we are all physically together in a room, the audience is likely to sit and listen to a speaker, at least for a while. It’s disruptive for any one of them to break ranks and leave their seat. They’re expected to stay, and it takes courage to counter that convention. Any stand up comedian will pounce on any opportunity to comment on any out-of-the-norm audience member.
None of that applies when everyone is online. You are nearly as helpless as a TV transmission. They can turn off at any time, and you probably won’t even know. Yes, there are signals such as cameras getting switched off, seeing people leave their desks, noticing the attendee count drifting down… all of which are happening too late for you to do much about it.
You have to engage from the start. Think of your participants wanting – and deserving – to be entertained. Bring in your most creative ideas while online – either your own or tactics you’ve seen work well for others. If you do it skilfully, people will opt to join in. Then you have every chance of getting the important information across, useful conversations happening, and standing out from the crowd as an Inspirational Facilitator.
How do you engage from the start?