2014 08-13--online facilitation3--preparing[v3]


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This third of four webinars on "Mastering Online Facilitation," originally designed and delivered for SEFLIN, focuses on organizing material, scripting, and preparing/rehearsing for webinars and online meetings. It is designed to model the practices discussed with the learners; leaves plenty of time for interactions with and among the learners; and concludes with resources and suggested activities to help participants apply what they are learning.

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  • When we watch the Blue Angels or any other aeronautics show, we’re absolutely stunned by the precision, the beauty, and the excitement that those well-rehearsed displays produce.
    There’s a lot we can learn from those efforts—and that’s what is at the heart of this third of four webinars on Mastering Online Facilitation: the need for organizing, scripting, and preparing—in plain English, “rehearsing”—so that what we nurture produces spectacular results for everyone involved.
  • Here’s how we want to feel as we prepare for our live online presentations. What we do should be so well planned and so well prepared that it looks effortless to our colleagues and learners.
  • This, unfortunately, is how we all to often actually feel—as if we’re in a vehicle that isn’t quite right for what we’re attempting to nurture, and if we look back a bit, we can see that unwelcome smoke that makes us wonder why we didn’t think to add a fire extinguisher to our presentation toolkit before we joined our colleagues in that online meeting or webinar we’re in the middle of facilitating.
    If all goes well, what we explore together today should push us toward soaring far more often than crashing and burning.
  • Before we build upon our previous discussions and move into determining whether to proceed with plans for an online meeting or a webinar, let’s plug any remaining gaps:
    If you have questions about what we discussed or what you just saw in that brief review, please type them into the chat window now…
    A reminder from last week: I’ll pause here to give you a few seconds to think and respond—and make the point again that online silence can not only be nice, but can also be part of effective meetings and webinars.
  • This image pretty much captures the approach we need to take.
    If you were able to attend or catch the archived recordings of the earlier sessions in this four-part series, you’ll probably remember that we’ve talked about carrying over some of what we know from onsite presentation skills and experiences as we spend more time facilitating online meetings and webinars. You’ll also remember, from our second session, that using instructional-design models calling for up-front assessments is extremely helpful in producing successful online sessions. Once we have established that we have quantifiable goals and objectives, we can organize, script, and rehearse for engaging online interactions.
  • So let’s return to a practice we’ve used throughout the series and start with what we know. Let’s draw upon the wisdom of this particular crowd to talk about:
    What already works well for you onsite or online in terms of organizing materials for a meeting or learning opportunity?
    As always, I’ll model the practice I’m encouraging you to adopt: I’ll read comments back to everyone as they appear in the chat window. I’ll also build off of those comments to add a few suggestions and keep things moving. Let’s not forget that ideas shared in the chat window offer you foundations for what you can do immediately we leave this session today.
  • By now, we’re all probably fairly comfortable with the idea that there are a variety of tools we can use to make our online meetings and our webinars engaging, easy to follow, and memorable. For meetings, there is the up-front time we put into assessing the need for the meetings, the confirmation that an online environment is appropriate for a particular group or topic, and the agenda that helps us script toward the results we and our colleagues are seeking. For webinars and other online learning opportunities, we have our needs assessment, our list of goals and objectives, and our approach to providing information in ways that our learners can absorb and apply that information.
    As we organize and script our online sessions, we need to keep in mind the idea that we don’t always have to cover every possible leaf in the forest—most of us simply aren’t going to be able to absorb that much information, and we’re going to be frustrated and overwhelmed if that’s what we encounter.
  • Focusing on much more limited parts of the overall picture, on the other hand, does help us focus tremendously. We’re much more likely to enter a meeting or online learning opportunity if we know that what is before us is something we are capable of considering in the time we have available to us.
    It comes down to that concept that I’ve mentioned in earlier sessions: chunking.
    At its most basic level, the theory of chunking is based on our neurological limitations—the idea that we can only take in a few key ideas at any one time, and that, if we’re lucky, we can absorb a few subsidiary elements in support of those key points. To plan a meeting with far too many issues to consider, or to design learning opportunities that subject learners to the equivalent of leaf-covered fields rather than a few isolated leaves is to invite frustration from the initial moments we gather online.
    A huge tip, therefore:
    If we see that our agenda covers far too many topics for the time we have available to us, or if we see that a webinar or other learning session has far more key learning points than we know can be absorbed, it’s time for us to trim that reduce the pile of leaves substantially and keep only those we know we can rake up comfortably.
  • It’s far from new information that learners’ attention span begins to fade after 10 or 15 minutes, as a study published in The Lancet in September 1978 confirmed (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014067367892233X).
    Those of you who want to know more about chunking and how it relates to the way we absorb information online and face to face can take a deep dive into the article you’re seeing here, on Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings blog—a magnificent resource for all of us. In reviewing the book you see pictured in the screenshot, Popova explores a several elements of chunking that go far beyond what we’re exploring together today. But her reminder that chunking allows us to digest small pieces of information in ways that eventually interweave those pieces into a larger tapestry is a great reminder to us that a key to our success is to organize our meetings and webinars in ways that foster this process.
  • A second resource for you—which you’ll find in our sheet of Week 3 resources—is a far more basic and easy-to-absorb article by Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish in The National Teaching & Learning Forum in 1996. The title of the article is “The ‘Change-Up in Lectures,’” and the conclusions mirror what many of us have observed, experienced, and read elsewhere:
    That learners begin to nod off after as little of 10 minutes of listening to a lecture
  • That “the brain does not record information like a videocassette recorder,”
  • And that we need to regularly do things to “reset the attention clock” if we don’t want to waste our learners’ time—and our own.
    You’ll find links to the Middendorf and Kalish article—and others—in a blog article posted by Frances Devine on February 10, 2013:
  • One great tool that helps us in organizing our efforts to facilitate online learning is storyboarding—a concept Cliff Atkinson discusses at length in Beyond Bullet Points.
    Atkinson, as you know from our previous discussions in this webinar series, proposes that we create a narrative flow through our presentations by using imagery rather than endless lists of bullet points that we then read to our learners. The process for creating that series of images can start with us scripting our sessions—and remember, as we prepare our scripts, to keep a few things in mind:
    We want to keep our scripts as close to our natural speech patterns as we can.
    We want to read that script aloud—repeatedly, if necessary—to be sure it sounds natural. Nothing brings rough spots to our attention quicker than realizing that we are stumbling over awkward passages or that we are gasping for air because the sentences we wrote are far bigger than our lung capacity can support.
    We ultimately use the script as a foundation, not as something that we will read verbatim. We need the freedom to deviate from that script to meet our learners’ needs, and we don’t earn extra points for making it through all our slides and every word of our text if we left our learners confused.
    As we finesse our scripts, we start making rough sketches of what we want to have on each slide. The goal is to create text and images that interweave seamlessly. Creating the slide themselves by dropping in the images we want to use can, in its own way, be a way of storyboarding while also developing our presentations, so we don’t need to worry that we don’t have the artistic skills to engage in storyboarding.
    As you have probably gathered from my previous mentions of Atkinson’s work and the techniques I’ve used in developing slides for this series of webinars, I’m a big fan of how he approaches the creation of slides. You’ll find wonderful descriptions about how to keep your own slides engaging throughout Beyond Bullet Points.
  • Let’s think for a moment about great examples we have seen of chunking in our own meeting and learning experiences:
    Please add your thoughts here, and remember to jot down your colleagues’ ideas that can be useful when you organize online meetings and webinars.
  • Let’s spend a few minutes further exploring the use of visuals in our presentations—how that works its way into organizing and scripting the information we will be presenting and the learning we will be facilitating. As you well know, it’s far more than simply locating and using pretty pictures; it’s integrating imagery into our presentations in ways that stimulate and support the goals established for our meetings and learning opportunities.
    Garr Reynolds, though is Presentation Zen book and website, inspires us to tremendous heights of creativity. The book cover itself gives us an idea of how he succeeds in weaving themes and images together. We quickly associate that Zen meditational image with the Presentation Zen theme just as we want to associate any image we use with the ideas we are attempting to convey.
    To browse through the book is to luxuriate in examples of design at its best. To read the blog is to receive inspiring reminders and creative approaches that—as I keep saying—serve us and those who are relying on us. And one additional element of this is that it isn’t limited to our online presentations: what we develop online with these techniques serves us equally well onsite or in blended settings.
  • To take a related but visually different approach, let’s turn briefly to the work of Edward Tufte.
    At the essence of Tufte’s work is the simplicity seen in this book cover. When we spend time with Tufte, we are reminded that it can take a great deal of effort to distill an image—a chart, a graph, or some other form of illustration—to its essence. Tufte introduces us to the concept of “chart junk”—all those unnecessary lines, legends, and other design element that hinder us in our efforts to try to decipher those overly-complex charts and graphs we have all come to dread. He makes us continually look at how we present information and ask ourselves what we can remove from our charts and graphs to make them immediately and easily assimilated by those we are trying to reach.
  • Let’s grab a chart that was published by the Pew Research Center to see what is typical and what we might do to dress things up a bit. This one compares the number of users following social media websites over a two-year period.
    Nothing particularly difficult here—but nothing particularly playful or engaging either.
    The next slide is going to simplify this at two levels—it’s going to show the focus on social media use of those sites for one rather than two years, and it’s going to use a much different graphic representation.
  • Questions to ask ourselves as we consider this sort of radical reworking of our visuals:
    Would anyone have remembered the percentages of users from the previous slide?
    What’s important in both slides: actual numbers of users, percentages of users, or the relative differences in rates of use?
  • Let’s inset that previous chart and ask a few more questions:
    Would anyone have remembered the percentages of users from the original Pew representation of the data? Why or why not?
    What’s important in both slides: actual numbers of users, percentages of users, or the relative differences in rates of use?
    What do we gain through either approach?
    What do we lose through either approach?
    How can we best serve our colleagues and learners through our visual representations online?
  • In the final section of our session today, let’s move into that all-important phase that takes place in the days preceding our online meeting or webinar—fine-tuning what we have prepared and rehearsing it so we’re relaxed, comfortable, and confident when we join our colleagues or learners.
    Complete disclosure: I was still tweaking the script for this session one hour before the session started, and I’m clearly improvising during the session in response to what all of us are doing together. It’s not done until it’s done—and even then, I sometimes go back to adjust speaker notes for the version that ultimately is posted online on my website, SlideShare, or elsewhere.
    There’s an important point to be made here:
    The slides are not the complete presentation. What I’m saying to you is not the complete presentation. And our interactions are not the complete presentation. All of these elements are interwoven to create a unique experience, and some of the elements can be used or re-used elsewhere to produce wonderful meeting or learning experiences.
  • It’s a given that even our best-laid plans can and sometimes will go awry, so we might as well stack the deck in our favor by doing the best possible tech check we can.
    When I’m working in a new environment or with a new client, I’ll generally try to schedule a check of our equipment and connections at least a few days in advance, and I’ll work from the same space I intend to work from for the live session—my home office or a client’s workspace. I’ve even done webinars from hotel rooms when I was traveling, and I’ve done rehearsals from those same rooms whenever possible.
    We’ll try everything we know we’re going to do—testing the sound, making sure the text and images on slides appear onscreen within the virtual environment just as they appear in the original slide deck, watching for delays if we’re engaged in screen-sharing, testing to see if the use of video streaming negatively affects the quality of the presentation, and a variety of other things:
    If we can think of it, we test it, and we don’t assume that just because something worked elsewhere, that it will work here.
    If we’re doing something adventurous—like connecting online and onsite audiences via something along the lines of a Google+ Hangout—we’ll check for placement of the speaker system onsite to be sure the sound is as good as it can be. We’ll check for camera angles from a laptop camera to be sure the offsite presenter has the best available view of the onsite participants. We’ll walk around the room to familiarize ourselves with how attendees will see the images being projected on a screen or wall, and we’ll ask our online colleague(s) to let us know when there are parts of the room from which it’s hard to see or hear onsite participants.
    This does take a fair amount of time: as I believe I mentioned in an earlier session, I can spend far more time in tech checks than I actually spend in live facilitation in extreme cases. But I have never once regretted that level of attention.
  • I’ll be the first to admit that I’m nearly obsessive about having back-ups in place:
    My slide deck is on my hard drive, on my laptop, a thumb drive, on Slide Share, (sometimes) on my website, in the hands of my producer, and in the hands of any co-presenters I have.
    I have a printed copy of the slides and speaker notes (using the Notes Page format) that I have marked up with a highlighter and pen.
    I have a sheet that includes the log-in and password information for the session, and also have my producer’s phone number and email address on that same sheet in case we need to reach each other outside of the online space we’re using.
  • And as we draw near to the day, hour, or moment of our online facilitation session, let’s not forget to repeat the mantra we see on this slide.
    We may not always achieve this, but it’s what we set as our gold standard.
  • Time for a final discussion designed to help you apply what you have learned today:
    Please type your responses to this question into the chat window, and feel free to jot down your ideas and any others you like from the chat window so you can continue creating a plan of action that you can use as soon as this session is over.
  • Planning ahead…
  • If we were going to summarize today’s session with one image, this would be the one.
    Fortunately, there was a bit more to it than that.
  • We explored ways of focusing on a limited number of agenda items or learning objectives by chunking our material into easy-to-absorb elements.
  • We looked at work by Cliff Atkinson, Garr Reynolds, and Edward Tufte to find create and effective ways to script and design our presentations—while keeping in mind the idea that the best of scripts allow for plenty of improvisation and never should be read verbatim.
  • We talked about the need to restart the attention clock after approximately 10 minutes of presentation—engaging our colleagues by shifting what we are doing, and making sure that what we do supports the meeting or learning goals we have established.
  • And when it comes to fine-tuning and rehearsing our presentations, we need to match the rehearsal space and process as closely as possible to the actual conditions we will face during when we are actually engaged in online facilitation.
    Practice may not make us perfect, but it sure goes a long way in providing the confidence that helps us come as close to perfection as possible.
    When we reconvene next week for our final session, we’ll explore a variety of steps we can take to assure that the actual delivery is fun, engaging, and rewarding for everyone involved.
  • A few resources worth exploring…
  • Online scheduling tools…
  • Organizing and scripting…
  • Going back to Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen—the book and the website—to prepare for our time together was a wonderful exercise for a couple of reasons:
    Reynolds’ is one of my favorite resources whenever I want to re-immerse myself in the importance of creating and using effective visuals in onsite and online presentations, and
  • The online referrals to other resources produced a short list of books that included many of the others that are on my own bookshelf and remain among my most frequently-consulted references, including two others we are reviewing today:
    Beyond Bullet Points and Brain Rules.
    If you’re not completely overwhelmed after reviewing the ones we’re examining together, you’ll probably be as enchanted as I am by others, including Made to Stick (by the Heath brothers) and Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind.
  • Evaluation Models
  • A bit of background:
    As we did earlier in this series, let’s use PowerPoint’s “Slide Sorter” view to see how today’s webinar was designed to demonstrate what it is trying to convey…
    You can see that:
    There was a deliberate effort to interweave imagery with text
    Bullet points were not part of the program—even the visual review at the end used repeated imagery to help you remember what was offered
    Use of color in the headlines provided some subtle guidance: Green headlines were often used for discussions, red for presentation of new information, and blue for introductory or summary material. (For ease of legibility, I had to switch to white type on the slides that used full images.)
    Plenty of white space was incorporated into the slides to make them as easy to absorb as possible
    Discussions were built into the presentation at regular intervals to help keep everyone engaged
    And the Slide Sorter view itself provides yet another review tool for us as we consider the topic we have been discussing: There is a visual roadmap of the journey we are completing together today
  • 2014 08-13--online facilitation3--preparing[v3]

    1. 1. Facilitated by Paul Signorelli Writer/Trainer/Consultant Paul Signorelli & Associates paul@paulsignorelli.com Twitter: @paulsignorelli August 13, 2014 Mastering Online Facilitation: Organizing, Scripting, and Preparing
    2. 2. Just Before the Event
    3. 3. Just Before the Event
    4. 4. Questions fromWeeks 1 and 2?
    5. 5. What already works well foryou onsite oronline in terms of organizing materials fora meeting orlearning opportunity?
    6. 6. Organizing
    7. 7. Chunking
    8. 8. Chunking: A DeeperLook http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/04/the-ravenous-brain-daniel-bor/
    9. 9. Chunking: How We Learn
    10. 10. Chunking: How We Learn
    11. 11. Chunking: How We Learn http://franssoeblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/blog-2-how-long-should-our-lectures- be/
    12. 12. Storyboarding/Beyond Bullet Points
    13. 13. Discussion #1: Great Chunking Examples You Have Seen?
    14. 14. Visual Organization and Scripting
    15. 15. Visual Organization and Scripting
    16. 16. A Typical Chart
    17. 17. An Atypical Chart: Discussion Comparison of Number of Users on the Following Social Media Websites—2013: Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram
    18. 18. An Atypical Chart—FurtherDiscussion Comparison of Number of Users on the Following Social Media Websites—2013: Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram
    19. 19. Preparing: Script & Slide-DeckCheck
    20. 20. Preparing: Tech Check
    21. 21. Preparing: Back-ups
    22. 22. Discussion #3: Applying What We’ve Learned What, if anything, remains daunting to you about the organizing, scripting, and preparation/rehearsal phase of planning online meetings/webinars?
    23. 23. Discussion #3: Applying What We’ve Learned What, if anything, remains daunting to you about the organizing, scripting, and preparation/rehearsal phase of planning online meetings/webinars? What is one thing you will do in the next weekto connect yourlibrary’s meeting orlearning needs with activities and tools we have discussed today?
    24. 24. In Summary
    25. 25. In Summary
    26. 26. In Summary
    27. 27. In Summary
    28. 28. In Summary
    29. 29. Resources (1) “How Long Should Our Lectures Be?” by Frances Devine Fran’s Thoughts on the Science of Education, February 10, 2013 http://franssoeblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/blog-2-how-long-s “The Science of ‘Chunking,’ Working Memory, and How Pattern Recognition Fuels Creativity,” by Maria Popova Brain Pickings, September 4, 2012 http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/04/the-ravenous “The ‘Change-Up’ Lectures, by Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish The National Teaching & Learning FORUM, Volume 5, Number 2, 1996 http://ixil.izt.uam.mx/pd/lib/exe/fetch.php/ib:modconduccion:the_
    30. 30. Resources (2) “10 Steps for Planning a Successful Webinar,” by Chris Peters and Kami Griffiths TechSoup, January 31, 2012 http://www.techsoup.org/support/articles-and-how-tos/1 “Six Tips for New Webinar Presenters,” by Shelby Britton Adobe Connect Blog, December 3, 2013 http://blogs.adobe.com/adobeconnect/2013/12/six-tip
    31. 31. Resources (3) Formore on web conferencing and online presentation skills: http://paulsignorelli.com/PDFs/Bibliography--Webconferencing_Resources.pdf
    32. 32. Resources (4)
    33. 33. Resources (4)
    34. 34. Resources (5) Presentation Zen blog: http://www.presentationzen.com/ GarrReynolds’ Presentation Tips: http://www.garrreynolds.com/preso-tips/
    35. 35. Going Underthe Hood
    36. 36. Questions & Comments
    37. 37. ForMore Information Paul Signorelli & Associates 1032 Irving St., #514 San Francisco, CA 94122 415.681.5224 paul@paulsignorelli.com http://paulsignorelli.com Twitter: @paulsignorelli http://buildingcreativebridges.wordpress.com
    38. 38. Credits & Acknowledgments (Images taken from flickr.com unless otherwise noted): Choreographed Flight: From Gureo’s photostreamat http://tinyurl.com/muyegj4 Superman: From Victor Valore’s photostream at http://tinyurl.com/q7u585p Airship with Smoke: From ErikBenacek’s photostream at http://tinyurl.com/n9ypfan Teacher and Students in Classroom: From www.audio-luci-store.it’s photostreamat http://tinyurl.com/mqtlnyg Be Prepared: From Caldisyrose’s photostreamat http://tinyurl.com/ktya3bx Autumn Leaves: : From Eva the Weaver’s photostreamat http://tinyurl.com/o2rr87b Single Leaf: From Lee Morley’s photostreamat http://tinyurl.com/ozhq669 Nodding Off: From Alpha’s photostreamat http://tinyurl.com/mx2tsj6 Videocassette Recorder: From Chris’s photostreamat http://tinyurl.com/qx6nqyo Resetting the Clock: From George Redgrave’s photostream at http://tinyurl.com/k3ftdqx Reviewing Scripts: From Iijiwaru Jimbo’s photostreamat http://tinyurl.com/l9nyber Using Laptop Among Flowers: From Ed Yourdon’s photostream at http://tinyurl.com/k2xlk65 Mirror Images: From Lotus Carroll’s photostream at http://tinyurl.com/lhojyxo Question Marks: From Valerie Everett’s photostreamat http://www.flickr.com/photos/valeriebb/3006348550/sizes/m/in/photostream/