A Checklist for Delivering High Impact Virtual Retreats and Remote Training

Legal Marketing Association (LMA)
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Remote Can Be Better Than Live

You read that right — when properly designed and implemented, remote trainings and retreats have the potential to not only save a ton of money, but also deliver better outcomes than when presented live. The key word here is “outcomes.”

Most training and retreats are not created with the end in mind, which is to change behavior and deliver results. Instead, they deliver information and bring people together to get to know each other better— which has its own merits. Where such events fall short, however, is failing to incorporate a post-meeting process that drives sustained follow-through on end-of-the-day outcomes. With the time and money that can be saved by going virtual, firms can focus their energy on follow-up activities that can truly reap the rewards.

The following is a partial list of key elements to consider when designing a virtual training program or retreat with sustained follow-up in mind:

General Preparation

  • Determine the outcomes you seek to achieve
  • Determine what must be in place to achieve those outcomes
  • Decide on key measures — what actions do you seek to activate based on the program?
  • Determine the technology platform (ones with breakout room capability add more design flexibility)
  • Solicit input from the participants to increase their buy-in
  • Think through the participant experience to make it highly engaging and enjoyable
  • Decide on the structure (e.g. town hall, facilitated planning, brainstorming, training, social connections, innovation, synchronous or asynchronous, etc.)
  • Manage the length (generally 90 minutes or less)
  • Send meeting invites and make sure people know how to log in to the technology

Presenters

  • Check on their virtual setups — lighting, sound, camera quality and placement, background, internet stability, lack of interruptions
  • Check presentations for simplicity, few words, powerful images, clean design
  • Clean up speaking skills (monotone, ums, likes, etc.)
  • Wear proper clothing (professional, right colors, no loud patterns, etc.)

Preparing for the Meeting

  • Determine roles
    • Who sends the invitation
    • Main presenter
    • Lead host
    • Backup person who knows the technology to support you
    • Who presses record (amazing how many times this is forgotten!)
    • Who introduces the program
    • Who manages the chat room
    • Who takes notes
    • Who checks attendance
    • Who manages slides
  • Determine breakout room groupings in advance
  • Practice with the presenter, especially if there is more than one
    • Transition of topics and slides between presenters
    • Use of technology tools, especially mute
    • Look at the camera
  • Just prior to the event
    • Sign in 30 minutes in advance (because things will go wrong that need to be fixed)
    • Have something ready to drink
    • Use the bathroom
    • Prepare speaker and participant materials
    • Double check teeth, hair, clothing
    • Turn off all noise-making devices (Outlook alerts, phone, etc.)
    • Turn off bandwidth hogs and close all extra documents and apps
    • Recheck lighting, sound, placement on screen
    • Presenter has backup method of getting into the meeting should primary go down

Conducting the Meeting

  • Start on time
  • Opening
    • Show participants where the basic functions are (video, mute, volume, chat, raise hand, different viewing options, etc.)
    • Ask them to turn off noise, distractions, bandwidth issues
    • Open with interactive process to grab their attention (write something in the chat box, give them a prompt to discuss in a quick breakout)
  • Include frequent interactive exercises to continually reengage the audience
  • Tell compelling stories and use metaphors
  • Where appropriate, call on people
  • Avoid cognitive overload
  • End on time or before
  • Closing
    • Reaffirm main points
    • Give any assignments

Post-Meeting Implementation

  • Have a team assigned to watch and drive action on commitments that come from the session
  • Assign homework
  • Assign cohort groups for joint support and perhaps joint projects
  • Create opportunities to interact with the instructor
  • Set expectations around specific measurable actions
  • Consider gamification to motivate ongoing action
  • Set up tracking systems
  • Check in on progress
  • Collect and report on progress and success to firm leaders
  • Provide praise for those who are performing well
  • Ask for feedback

While in-person events are on hold, that doesn’t mean we must stop meeting, planning and connecting. In fact, when intelligently designed and implemented, remote meetings can actually surpass in-person events in terms of customization, production values and driving post-event implementation. Hopefully this list gives you a solid running start for producing your own high impact event.

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Freeman_David_LI

David Freeman, J.D., CEO of the David Freeman Consulting Group, delivers high impact virtual training and retreat programs that drive revenue. For over 26 years he has worked with 200 law firms. He was voted the no. 1 business development coach and consultant in National Law Journal reader surveys for three consecutive years, and he is a two-time best-selling author. He can be reached at dfreeman@davidfreemanconsulting.com and 310-773-7691.

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