“The feedback from the delegates was overwhelmingly positive. Seeing me made them feel as if I was there in the room with them which made it easier for them to listen to me and understand what I was saying”.

That’s what I told my boss when she asked about my use of live video in my virtual training courses.

“And how did you feel?” she continued

“Well, appearing on camera takes a bit of getting used to as you realise that every move and every action can be seen by the delegates, whether it be taking a drink, scratching your nose or leaning backwards in your chair.”

To be honest, from that point of view, it’s no different to delivering live training, but having spent a considerable amount of time delivering virtual training in recent years being able to do all those things, it just takes a bit of a shift in behaviour.

Interactive and Engaging

We’re an on-site team that deliver IT courses to end users. At a recent team meeting, a number of ideas were kicked around on how we can make our courses more interactive and engaging. One of the ideas was to use video.

Our laptops have built in webcams and we also have external USB webcams. Someone suggested that we limit the use of video to the course introduction, the course closure and the start and end of each section as too much video might be a distraction (note – I don’t necessarily agree with that statement).

monitor_side

This week I’ve delivered 4 short virtual training courses (1 x 2 hour course and 3 x 1 hour courses) and decided to experiment with using video. I went “all the way”, leaving the camera on throughout the entire course.

I “appeared” on each delegate’s screen in a small window which meant that they could see me whilst also watching my presentation or software demo, although I guess if any of them had a second monitor they could have made the video window full-screen and had my face in 24 inches of screen real estate!

The Setup (Technical Bit)

The photo above shows my setup. I was delivering SharePoint training and was in a small meeting room hence the untidy cables. The USB webcam is clipped to the top of the laptop monitor. Compared to the built-in camera, the quality of the USB camera is much better.

I shared the laptop monitor in Webex and used the external monitor to display the Chat Panel and the Participants Panel, which lists the names of the attendees. If video has been enabled for the meeting, the top half of the Participants Panel displays the output from the Host’s webcam.

The external monitor also has my “speakers notes” for when I’m delivering a PowerPoint presentation as well as any other applications that I want to “hide” at the start and bring in as and when (I just drag them onto the monitor that’s being shared).

As an aside, if you’re wondering about the headset, we use a teleconferencing service for the audio, rather than VOIP. However, rather than using a telephone, I dial in to the teleconferencing service using Microsoft Lync as the quality is much better (less echo and less background noise than using a hands-free telephone on loudspeaker).

I do have a telephone in the room as a backup in case a) Lync fails b) my PC crashes. I can then dial into the teleconference using the phone to continue to communicate with the attendees.

monitor_behind

During the first course, I quickly realised that my eyes regularly shifted to the right as I kept my eye on the chat and any other windows that were on my external monitor. Consequently, for the subsequent courses, I positioned the external monitor behind the laptop which meant that I was always facing the camera, and therefore, my audience (think TV presenter).

Do you use video whilst delivering virtual training? I’d welcome your comments