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InSync Training's founder Jennifer Hofmann authors Body Language in the Bandwidth, an active conversation focused on connecting, collaborating and succeeding in the modern classroom.

What Makes a Great Virtual Classroom Producer? Advice from an Expert

Posted by Helen Fong

May 3, 2016 2:30:00 PM

Helen_Production_Blog.jpgInSync Training’s team includes a group of fantastic virtual classroom producers, or assistant facilitators, who provide professional event support to our clients, and our Certificate course and Workshop facilitators. They keep learners on track, and transform virtual training programs into fast-moving, trouble-free interactive events. 

In this guest post, Helen Fong, our Lead Producer, shares her wisdom about this important, but often overlooked, role. 

When I first started producing, I had a unique skillset just because I knew how to use WebEx Training Center and how to leverage the WebEx tools to deliver an engaging virtual learning event.  The trainers that I worked with were often new to the virtual classroom.  They were used to the traditional face-to-face learning environment and were wary and nervous about making the switch to the virtual classroom.  Back then, my role was often to teach the trainers how to navigate the slides and ask for feedback using the raise hand tool, green check, red X, etc.  During the session, I would often be asked to do a short tools introduction to the participants and help the learners with the technology throughout the session.  Being able to do this made me a GREAT producer in 2000.

Fast forward 16 years. 

Knowing WebEx Training Center is no longer a unique skill.  Today, many producers know multiple platforms.  Producers may be in 3-4 virtual platforms in any given day.  A good producer knows the subtle differences between various platforms and can speak to those differences when asked.  A good producer is able to follow the Producer Guide and support the speaker as specified by the design.  A good producer is able to manage the tools and provide a seamless experience for both the speaker and participants.  A good producer pays attention to detail and follows through in a timely manner by providing all the requested post-session information. 

So what is the difference between a good producer and a great producer now? 

A great producer is all of the above, plus flexible, reliable and present, calm, and a partner to the client with the willingness to go the extra mile. 

It is common for a client to send updated materials 10 minutes before the session is scheduled to start or change their mind on how they want to conduct an activity in the moment.  This will result in adjustments on the producer side to provide a positive experience for the participants in the session.  A great producer must be flexible with last minute adjustments.

A great producer must also be reliable and present.  The client needs to know that they have your undivided attention throughout the session.  This can be demonstrated with key phrases being entered in chat, providing information that is not already documented in the guide, and more.  Knowing that the producer is “present” and paying attention provides the speaker a sense of security that the producer will have their back and can keep up with any last minute adjustment the facilitator feels would be beneficial to the session. 

In addition to being present during the session, a great producer is also responsive before the session.  This means responding to client concerns within a reasonable amount of time, giving the impression that whatever is important to the client is also important to you.

Mirroring the client’s sense of urgency is essential.  A great producer does so with a sense of calm without seeming aloof.  If a client is frantic about a situation, a great producer would share the sense of urgency and manage it calmly so that the client feels the situation is under control.  A sense of calm can be conveyed through voice by speaking calmly, recapping the situation, then working out a plan.  Since a phone call is not always convenient, the same can be done in an email by verifying your understanding of the situation and providing a logical plan.  Personally, I like bullet points or a numbered list because breaking the task into smaller chunks makes it more manageable. 

By demonstrating an understanding of the situation or session, a producer is in the position to be a partner to the client.  As a partner, the producer has reviewed the materials, the producer guide, and other supporting materials.  The producer also understands what the client wants out of the session and has analyzed the situation which enables the producer to offer suggestions on how to create more engagement throughout the session by leveraging the available tools, such as features built into the platform, and the participants to create a richer experience for all that is involved.   

All of the above requires a producer to be willing to go the extra mile.  That is what ultimately makes the difference between a good producer and a great producer.   What do you think makes a good producer great?

If your organization needs support during its live online learning events, we can help! Click here to learn more about our Professional Event Support Services.

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Topics: Virtual Classroom - Production, Virtual Classroom - Best Practices, Producer, Global Virtual Classroom

    

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