9 Tips To Engage Learners Through Web Conferences
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How To Deliver An Interactive Web Conference

To some, the term “interactive web conference” may seem like an oxymoron. It may bring up images of remote team members staring passively at their screens while a presenter scrolls through slides. It’s only a matter of time before the learners get distracted by side chats, cleaning out inboxes, or surfing open browser tabs.

In this scenario, no one’s interacting, and no one’s learning anything. However, in reality, online training solutions can be extremely engaging and effective.

The immediate benefits of web conferencing are obvious (think savings in time and cost and the easy logistics of rolling out training to remote teams). However, an equally compelling reason to turn to eLearning is the unique opportunities it provides for active learning.

Why Interactivity In Learning Matters

Active learning occurs when learners engage with the content. They're doing activities and thinking about what they’re doing. Instead of just hearing information as it's presented, active learners internalize it. Research shows that learners who interact with training are more cognitively engaged. Active learning increases training effectiveness by boosting understanding, long-term retention, and skill transfer.

In short, training is more effective when learning requires effort. To get the most out of your online training, focus on creating an interactive web conference experience that helps people understand, remember, and apply your content.

9 Tips For Delivering An Engaging, Interactive Web Conference

There are several factors that can make eLearning more engaging. First, know and use the features of your web conferencing software to the fullest. Second, focus on strengthening your content. And third, include activities that promote interaction. With these factors in mind, here are 9 tips for adding interactivity to your web conference:

1. Conduct Polls And Surveys

One of the quickest ways to get people engaged with a topic is to have them weigh in on it. Consider running real-time polls or surveys in the course of the training. Asking people’s opinions forces them to think deeply and meaningfully about their responses. It makes it personal, and thus more memorable.

There are different ways to set up interactive moments with a poll or survey. You could ask participants how they feel about a topic, about their experience with a skill, or how often they’ve encountered the problem you’re addressing.

The process of responding will engage their minds and their emotions. They'll also be invested in how their answer fits in with group opinion or experience. And when they help define the scope of the problem, people care more about learning the solution.

2. Encourage Audience Participation

You can make learning active by building chances for learner participation in your session. When your audience has to do something, they’re going to pay attention, and they’re going to get more out of their learning experience.

Stimulate participation by asking questions and encouraging people to share their thoughts with the larger group—via audio or chat. Have volunteers read or explain content. Again, polls and surveys are a great way to give people some interaction with the screen. When you involve learners in driving the training forward, they’re going to be more invested in the content and block any distractions.

3. Break Out For Discussions

People retain information when they have a chance to talk about what they learn. Encourage this kind of interaction in your web conference by providing forums for discussion. Pose a question to the group, then use the breakout feature in your software to separate participants into smaller “rooms” to talk about it. Staying in the larger group makes it easy for individuals to sit back and allow others to drive the conversation. Small groups are less intimidating and encourage more participation.

4. Create A Connection With Visuals

Keeping learners’ attention is crucial to engaging them with your content. Strong visuals are a good way to make quick impressions and create emotional connections. Make your slides work for you by laying them out with large, interesting images and minimal text.

Frequent motion is also useful in drawing learners away from distractions and back to the training material. Introduce visual change by switching from talking to your camera to sharing your screen. Create movement by transitioning between slides more frequently, adding animation, or highlighting specific information with your pointer.

5. Add Social Elements

In a recent study, GP Strategies found that more than 70% of students prefer learning with others, offline or online. They feel more engaged with the content when they're working through it with a group or even just one other person.

Create a social learning experience by giving learners the opportunity to interact with each other throughout the training. For example, include required peer reviews of projects or assignments. Ask learners to contribute to a forum or question board periodically. Consider setting up small group projects as part of the course, asking learners to meet outside the training and apply what they’ve learned together.

6. Keep Your Content Focused

Streamline your content to respect participants’ time and keep them thinking about the material. People are here to learn something specific and useful. Resist the urge to include interesting but slightly off-topic side information.

Ask yourself: Can learners understand the skills without knowing the in-depth theory behind them? Could a story example be moved to an optional library for future reference without creating confusion? If so, the information is probably not necessary. Remove it and zero in on the core of your message.

7. Mix Up Your Media

Try varying the types of media you’re presenting. Even with striking images and cut-down text, static slides are only engaging for so long. Switch it up by including things like relevant videos or infographics.

As with visuals, make sure the media you choose is actually engaging. For example, is the video of high quality? Does the pacing keep people’s attention? Is it entertaining? Are graphics eye-catching? Are they easy to interpret? Is the point directly related to the presentation’s purpose?

8. Make It Practical

When people have a chance to practice what they’re learning, they’re more likely to apply it back on the job. Engage students with hands-on applications that help them get comfortable using the skills. Include role-play exercises based on real-life situations. Have them brainstorm actual challenges they face that could benefit from what they’re learning. Making the connection to actual experiences makes the content real for your learners, and that’s going to make it more compelling and memorable.

9. Embrace Gamification

Adding a level of friendly competition also makes for strong engagement. One survey found that 85% of employees reported that they’d spend more time with software that was gamified. Adding a bit of play is a great way to make things interesting and keep learners invested.

Use your LMS to apply and track gamification elements that complement your web conferences. Think about adding a leaderboard to show students’ progress through assignments that follow a webinar. Set challenges and add levels to the learning path. Award points or badges for completing challenges.

Conclusion

Technology makes it easy and convenient to roll out training widely and quickly across your organization. But it can be easy to fall into the trap of assuming learning through web conferencing must be passive. Putting your content on the screen and making it available doesn’t guarantee the successful transfer of knowledge.

Instead, give your training a boost by employing tactics for active learning. Using the above tips, pull people back from the distractions that creep into remote working environments and engage them with your training.

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