Facilitator Journal | Issue #0283, December 19, 2006 ....
As a virtual university, FacilitatorU is particularly interested
in, and part of, the growing trend in training and meeting in "virtual"
mode. In this week's article, "Balancing Technology with Touch,"
we look at some of the drivers of this trend, challenges, benefits,
and limitations of virtual meetings, and some tips for effectively facilitating
And as the year comes to an end, I'd like to thank you for your continued
support of FacilitatorU.com. I hope that you have an energizing, engaging,
and rejuvenating holiday season and that you facilitate it to the highest
and best good for yourself and your loved ones. In appreciation for your
support and in honor of this issue, I'm offering a 50% holiday discount
on the self-guided version of "Leading
at a Distance: The Core Essentials of T/VM Facilitation." This
offer is good through Friday of this week.
Publisher and Founder of FacilitatorU.com
Live Two-Day Workshop
for Facilitative Leaders
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Technology with Touch
Use teleclasses and virtual meetings to reach out and touch your participants
Virtual Training and Meeting Trend
There's a growing trend in providing training and meetings in a "virtual"
mode in addition to Face-to-Face (F2F). Classes and virtual meetings are
being run via teleconference, with or without video, self-guided training
via workbooks and CD's, a wealth of online meeting technologies, and in
many combinations as the occasion dictates.
While the simple fact that technology now exists to enable us to train
and meet virtually is likely the biggest driver in this trend, there are
others too. The trend toward virtual meeting is also fueled by the globalization
of the workforce calling for decentralized command and control of corporations
who can no longer afford to send people traveling across the globe at
the drop of a hat. Nor do they need to with the technology that exists
Further, over the past decade or more, universities have been converting
many of their classroom courses to "online" courses. In fact,
the world's largest university, the University of Phoenix, boasting well
over 200,000 students, offers the majority of their courses, leading to
undergraduate and graduate degrees, online.
Let's briefly review some benefits and limitations of virtual meeting
Benefits to Teleclasses and Virtual Meetings (T/VM's)
- No travel
time and no travel costs.
- A clearer
focus than many lectures.
to pick and choose what sessions to attend at the last minute.
of working in your own space.
notes and handouts from the web site.
- Easy to
record and offer to those who couldn't attend real time.
- No visual
distractions or biases.
offer many benefits that F2F interaction can't, they also have their limitations...
senses. T/VM's are often audio only, visual only, or at best, audio/visual
mediums. This offers challenges to the attention of some learning styles.
interaction with each other is limited.
body language that enhances communication.
in the use of visual demonstration and information.
- Easy to
be distracted and tune out or multitask.
Communication. T/VM's primarily allow only one person to talk at a time
to the entire group. This can be either a disadvantage or an advantage
depending on your purpose. For example, in a situation where it's important
that everyone really hear individuals in the group, a T/VM environment
that requires people to speak only one at a time can enhance this process,
providing of course that it is effectively facilitated.
of T/VM's may outweigh the costs depending on your purpose and perspective.
The technology enabling us to train and meet virtually comes on the
heels of the information age. We all love information, especially information
that we need right now. But over indulging in information can leave us
feeling mentally bloated and overwhelmed. Current virtual meeting technologies
make it easy to generate and disseminate a great deal of information rapidly.
This can be both a blessing and a curse.
When we look at the most pressing problems we encounter in organizations,
they are seldom lack of information. Instead, they continue to be the
challenge of people communicating required information so that it can
be used effectively. While you're meeting, whether virtually or F2F, use
this time, not necessarily to share information, but to collaborate, to
solve problems, or to enhance working relationships.
Balancing technology with touch
abundant technology available to facilitate meetings and conferences using
Internet and voice. Often however, too great an emphasis is placed on
the technology at the expense of effective communicating and relating.
Just like F2F meetings, T/VM's offer you the opportunity to employ facilitation
skills to make them more effective. While the majority of T/VM leaders
employ very limited methods, primarily that of lecture and discussion,
there are at least 10 different modes of interaction available that we
can draw from to enhance the results of T/VM's. Here's a brief description
of each of them.
The most frequent form of oral communication used in T/VM's. Its
an easy default mode that demands very little skill from the leader.
Though there are times when lecture is appropriate, it is often overused
because it's easy.
Experiential activities are used in T/VM's to generate creative
thinking and new insights.
Everyone loves a good story. A story can simultaneously entertain,
inspire, and recast old problems in a new light to create breakthrough
Role-plays are particularly useful in teleclass training situations
where techniques and situations can be acted out and practiced in a
safe environment. Largely aural in nature, they lend themselves well
to the T/VM environment.
Most adult participants have significant knowledge and experience
to share that can benefit any group if given the opportunity.
There are times when dialogue unfolds between participants in a T/VM
that can bring wonderful new insights and discoveries to the group.
Dialogue is not something we can make happen, but we can be sensitive
to when its trying to occur and allow it to happen.
Metaphors are effective tools to communicate complex feelings and ideas.
Once converted to a clear metaphor, they become conscious. Once conscious,
they can be expressed, and through expression comes learning.
Many people conduct T/VM's to coach groups on a common area of interest
such as business development, marketing, personal development skills,
The best reason for getting a group of people together in the first
place is to share ideas. Therefore, discussion is the mode youll
likely want happening most of the time during your T/VMs.
Party Sources provided by colleagues and experts to add content,
variety, and expertise.
detail on these modes of T/VM facilitation and a thorough treatment of
the essentials of T/VM Facilitation check out our live or self-guided
at a Distance: The Core Essentials of T/VM Facilitation."
can you use T/VM's to your benefit as a facilitator or meeting leader? What
challenges do you have with these types of meetings that you need help with?
Please click reply and tell me. I'd love to hear from you.
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