Turning a face to face programme virtual
Recently we were tasked by one of our clients with the challenge of turning an EMEA Account Management Development Programme module into a virtually delivered workshop. As the project manager, I was aware that this would involve hard work, clear project management and attention to detail. However, given that this was the first time I had been involved in turning a programme virtual, I don’t think I was quite prepared for what lied ahead. ‘Just take the same face to face content and deliver it virtually, that can’t be too hard?’ That was the resounding statement I heard from many at the beginning of the project. If only it were that simple!
Firstly, we considered whether the module was suitable for virtual delivery. As a team we discussed the existing content and how it could be adapted to ensure we kept the participants’ attention and engagement (this can be much harder to do virtually). We concluded the module could actually benefit from the ‘going virtual’ streamlining process, focusing on meeting the essential learning objectives of the programme.
The next step was to get organised! I created a document which would be our ‘go to’ for the next few weeks. This included an overview of the module, an individual breakdown of each session, task lists (an essential that I live by when project managing) and a schedule of each stage of the process and delivery. For me personally, these elements really helped to create a sense of calm in a world of chaos, and allowed me to feel more comfortable and able to ‘take hold’ of the project.
Once we had worked with each contributor to reduce their content, we focused on the delivery. This involved reviewing the tools available to us and where it would be most beneficial to integrate them into each session. We used a variety of tools, including:
Jamboard – participants added virtual ‘post it’ notes to the board, which all combined to create an impressive collage of the group’s thoughts and ideas
Slido – a live questionnaire which collated the results for the host and participants to see in real time
Google Hangouts Chat – this function allowed participants to send comments to the plenary group (which was particularly successful during role play scenarios)
Mural – An informal information repository and content overview including the tools used throughout the module.
The successful utilisation of these tools ensured that participant engagement remained high throughout, and each facilitator’s delivery was seamless. Overall, the module proved to be a resounding success, and we received nothing but praise from the participants, facilitators and programme director. I was amazed by the level and quality of work we could produce when we all worked collaboratively.
I found it an extremely rewarding project to be part of, particularly as virtual delivery is likely to play a much larger part in our working lives - the work invested now will benefit us in the future too. As a result of the success of this module, the next one has been agreed for virtual delivery, and we are now beginning the process again. Thankfully, I have my previous experience and project management documents at the ready this time, to make things a little easier!