How a Skilled Virtual Facilitator Helped Create an Engaging Online Conference
“The session went beautifully as we were very prepared. The accolades we got were amazing.” ~ Kelly H., Area Vice President of Leadership Development & Workforce Culture, CareCentrix
Leadership Strategies provides virtual facilitation services for companies across the globe. Recently, we provided CareCentrix, a leading home health care company, with a skilled virtual facilitator to help them convert their in-person conference to a virtual environment. We helped train their session leaders and speakers on the strategies and techniques for ensuring audience engagement.
We also provided coaching services to help them be more comfortable and self-assured when managing all aspects of their virtual conference including navigating the technology, making smooth transitions, starting with impact, and closing with confidence.
Every year, CareCentrix hosts an exclusive leadership conference for more than 100 individuals. In light of the travel restrictions and social distancing requirements resulting from the global pandemic, Kelly H., Area Vice President of Leadership Development & Workforce Culture, knew that the conference would have to be held virtually. Kelly contacted Leadership Strategies, and together we worked to determine the right facilitation services and skilled virtual facilitator for helping them make the shift to a virtual environment.
Adapting a face-to-face conference to a virtual environment presents a unique set of challenges. Engagement must be kept high, schedules must be adjusted, breakout meetings and sessions must be remotely moderated, and the presenters must be prepared.
In addition to hosting the conference online, the client had already secured several speakers – all of whom now needed to give their presentations from a virtual platform. Furthermore, because the conference was scheduled to occur at the end of the month, they only had a small window in which to prepare.
Leadership Strategies uses a careful selection process to identify one or multiple facilitators to address each organization’s specific needs. After comparing skill sets and techniques, industry expertise, and availability, we reached out to Core Team Facilitator, Steve Bush. Steve is a Certified Master Facilitator™ and experienced performance coach. He is also a professional keynote and international conference speaker who is practiced in the art of virtual facilitation.
CareCentrix’s main interest in our services for the event was to assist in delivering a session with the leaders on change management and resiliency. In addition to delivering high-level concepts, Steve took the group of 100+ leaders through three engagement strategies to help them to think through how they might better integrate change management and resiliency in the business both with their direct reports and beyond.. “Steve’s style and delivery on change management was amazing.” said Hamm. “He got to a group of people who do not usually show any vulnerability especially with peers and what he did with one engagement in particular allowed them to be transparent in articulating their stress level.”
Steve also provided expertise to CareCentrix by assisting their booked presenters behind the scenes to ensure they executed their part in the most powerful way in a virtual format. He met with planning team for an extended amount of time, advising them on the right equipment and virtual platform, the best lighting for their presentations, and the timing and duration of breaks, making sure they infused interaction where necessary. They discussed the potential impact on people in the organization and compiled a clearly articulated description of the changes that would have to occur as well as the technological updates they would need to make. He also helped them anticipate potential changes in attendee expectations, redefine their own expectations, and create a workable action plan.
During the planning, Steve guided them through identifying the risks associated with online conferences, including the impact shifting to a virtual environment would have on their processes and performance. He instructed them on how to effectively use the virtual platform they selected for the conference. He also helped them develop plans for both formal and informal communications prior to, during, and after the conference concluded.
Next, Steve worked with each presenter individually to teach them virtual engagement strategies. He reiterated the importance of making sure online conference attendees feel as if they’re in the room and helped them explore creative opportunities for participants to engage their content. He then coached them while they rehearsed the engagement techniques they had identified and ensured they had the tools they needed to hold attention and keep their presentation moving at a good pace.
Finally, Steve brought the hosts and presenters back together to review the action plan, recap the virtual skills and engagement strategies they had practiced, and develop contingency plans if anything should go wrong. After 3 days of thorough coaching and preparation for their virtual conference, CareCentrix and their presenters were ready for their (newly) virtual conference.
Facilitation is a key to ensuring people understand change and participate successfully in collaboration efforts to create desired outcomes. Additionally, the coaching and preparation provided by a facilitator is critical to learning how to engage people and develop the skills needed to handle potential problems.
By partnering with a skilled virtual facilitator, this leading home health care company was able to efficiently and effectively manage the changes their conference underwent. Their presenters were coached on the techniques that helped them connect with and keep their audience engaged and were given the opportunity to practice the new skills they learned.
“Steve hit a home run!” said Kelly. “He was helpful in regards to content being delivered and then alleviating the pressure on the team so they can focus on other things. He also helped them coordinate and helped them to think of things that they had not initially considered.”
The result was an engaging, productive, and memorable online event that left the organization, the presenters and – most importantly – their audience pleased with the experience.
Are you looking for a facilitation expert to help you convert your conference to a virtual environment?