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No more boring online sessions

Have you ever been bored while attending a Zoom meeting or listening to a presentation? In May 2021 we had a pleasure to have Cyriel Kortleven in our webinar with Linda Nilsson. The hot topic of the webinar was how to carry out entertaining online session and what practices should organizers avoid.

Cyriel Kortleven – speaker, changemaker, The Simplifier

Cyriel has earned himself a nickname, The Simplifier. He wants to make change in the mindset of people who attend online sessions. Cyriel himself has a guideline for online sessions. Even though people are used to attend online sessions and there is nothing special about the rules, it is refreshing to crystalize the outlines. 

  1. Airplane mode – Cyriel wants attendees to close applications, so you won’t be able to distract yourself with a quick peek to social media.
  2. Mute microphone – if the size of a meeting is big, background noises might cause interruption. In smaller groups reactions, laughter, little snorts and so on are warmly welcome and make the session feel more real.
  3. Camera on – camera visualizes body language which is priceless part of interaction. Why would you remove that part from virtual interaction?
  4. Cats allowed on the keyboard – do not feel too bashful about your location or surrounding. Online sessions do not need to be attended from sterile, clean white room.
  5. No pants required – just please don’t stand up! 

With this list above, Cyriel wants to break the ice between him and the audience. It might not include the most common guidelines but going through it in the beginning of the session relaxes the audience. With open communication he attempts to create connection that will foster interaction and comfort in online session. 

Another great way to create interaction is using polls. If audience does not feel familiar to express their opinions naturally, polls are delicate way to make people open their mouths. 

What issues can online sessions face? 

Cyriel agrees that some people find online events more difficult than traditional physical events. Reasons might be such as technical issues caused by internet connection but also uncertainty about the platform. If the used platform is totally new to the participant, the key issue is the usability and understanding of it. Make sure to guide your attendees on how to use it. 

Beyond technical issues come so called human factors. To get participants excel themselves and start conversations with each other online is also counted as an issue. It’s often taken for granted that people perform small talk while taking a cup of coffee, but when online, the tables have turned. It is mainly considered to be harder to socialize online than it is face to face. 

Human issues include also participants’ exhaustion or the feeling of being stuck in front of the screen. Too strict schedule does not offer time to process your own thoughts or take a break. To avoid having totally numb audience, Cyriel encourages to engage participants as much as possible to hold their attention. 

TIPS to avoid boring online sessions 

  • Check audience's mood! Ask, how your audience is doing in the beginning, in the middle and in the end of the session. In webinars where you cannot see the audience you can always ask participants to answer polls or say something in the chat. 
  • Use breakout rooms! In a group of three or four people it is easy to have a conversation. In online sessions it is way more effortless to split the audience in smaller groups than it is in physical events. 
  • Can you use accessories rather than slide presentation? Switching from screen to another does not catch interest as well as real action. 

To create successful online session and enjoyably experience to your audience can demand more planning than physical event. Eventually everything is about daring to try new things and find your own path: if you never try out your idea, you will either never know if it works. The main thing is to be creative and activating. More Cyriel’s tips and tools can be found from the webinar here.

If you are interested in joining a full training session with Cyriel Kortleven, where he will give you 21,5 methods to boost engagement, interaction and fun during online sessions, please sign up for his online course, you can get more information here

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