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Are You Performing an Effective Virtual Training Balancing Act?

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Thu Nov 05 2015

Are You Performing an Effective Virtual Training Balancing Act?
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How often do you hear your virtual meeting break into laughter and you have no idea why? Or, you feel like you're missing part of the conversation because you can't clearly hear everyone who is speaking? 

Virtual balance means everyone in the interaction is having the same experience. Everyone can hear and be heard, participate, and see the same things with equal clarity through shared files, web sharing, webcams, teleconference, and so forth. This means that if someone laughs everyone in the interaction knows why they're laughing whether the joke is verbal, visual, or physical. 

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Too often, we don't stop to think what it's like to be on the other end of the phone or web meeting. 

Consider yourself in each of these situations. What audio and visual challenges are apparent in each situation? How engaged are you? How included do you feel? How much are you likely to participate?

  • One-to-one conversation

  • One-to-one conversation that includes webcam usage by all participants

  • Two-to-one conversation (when you are the part of the two person group) (when you are the one person)

  • Group-to-one conversation (when you are part of the co-located group)(when you are the one person)

  • Group-to-one person conversation when the group consists of people on a teleconference but the one person does not have teleconference capability (when you are part of the group)(when you are the one person)

  • Group-to-group conversation

    • when there is no webcam

    • when there is a webcam on the chairperson only

    • when there is a webcam in each room focused on one person

    • a webcam is viewing entire group in each location

    • teleconference for both groups

When one group has access to information (such as visual information) that another group doesn't, it presents a challenge. That might seem like an obvious statement to make, but it's not always obvious when it's happening. What’s more, the impact this can have is not easy to predict. This imbalance of information leaves people feeling excluded, and it can lead to things like misunderstandings, frustration, disengagement, lack of participation, demotivation, low productivity, and lack of trust. 

Factors that affect virtual balance include: 

  • Ability to hear everyone well 

  • Ability to see the same things that everyone else sees (including body language, if applicable) 

  • Ability to participate equally (same access to files, tools, visual support, etc.) 

  • Availability to participate in or prepare pre-work 

  • Availability to access tools that track progress or make files accessible after the meeting 

  • Time zones 

  • Lack of virtual meeting guidelines/norms 

  • Ability to address things that are going on in your physical environment that may not be seen by others 

  • Unshared feedback. 

As part of a virtual team, you need to consider virtual balance—if you want to get the most out of your team and the collaboration experience. Ask yourself (or your team) how often do situational factors make you feel excluded or unimportant to the outcome of meetings?

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For more advice on how to make your virtual interactions more productive, join Lynette for ATD’s Virtual Effectiveness.

Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from the Virtual Effectiveness Consulting Blog.

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