Zoom Tips from an Engagement Pro

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“I do not teach anyone, I only provide the environment in which they can learn.” — Albert Einstein

Over the course of the last year, I have facilitated more than 50 online learning sessions for Freechild Institute and SoundOut. More than 5,000 students and adults have participated and I’ve become really excited about facilitating learning online.

Along the way, people have asked what I’ve learned about synchronous online facilitating. Whether you’re using Zoom, Google Meet, or another live technology, I think there are some standards everyone has come to expect. That depends on how basic you want to be. You can be very explicit and tell them the basics, or just the more event-specific stuff.

However, I want to get into my advanced tips for online facilitators. Here’s what I do when I’m facilitating on Zoom, Google Meet, or elsewhere.

Adam’s Zoom Tips

Angela Davis quote, "You can never stop and as older people, we have to learn to take leadership from the youth and I guess I would say that this is what I'm attempting to do right now."

Just like in person, throughout the session I will…

  • Ask questions throughout the session focused on finding out what participants know to inform my process
  • Ask questions for participants to respond in the chat and with the raise hands feature
  • Solicit questions from participants
  • Ask for participant feedback on the stuff I’m talking about at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of our time together
  • Ask participants to write and draw things, so everyone should have paper and writing devices as well as their attention!
  • Ask quick yes/no questions to give participants chances to respond

Those are my advanced tips that apply to Zoom and in-person. Here are my other tips. I encourage participants to…

  • Use the chat box and use the “raise hands” feature to engage me with questions and do that throughout the session
  • Circulate with other participants physically and/or in the chat to make sure they’re contributing
  • Ask questions in the chat, giving commentary and sharing reactions using emoticons
  • Reply when they’re asked
  • Make “accountability pairs” with other participants to keep each other engaged in the session

If there are multiple facilitators, get anonymous feedback from participants during the session by using Zoom’s polling tools and use them to provoke passive discussion while another person is facilitating. They can also monitor the chat box and field questions to me if there get to be a lot.

Cameras? As a facilitator I find cameras super useful, although a lot of people have a lot of different expectations / realities. You have to choose what’s best for you.

Those are my Zoom tips. If you’re interested, I have an article about excellent facilitating — send me an email for a copy, or ask questions in the comments if you want more info!

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