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Let's plan an online session

Practice, practice, practice!

Whether it is a face to face or an online teaching session the golden rule is 'be prepared.'

What are the risks if I don't prepare?

  • Lack of training and knowledge of the system could result in participants not hearing the audio or seeing the content.
  • Technical issues could affect the session and damage the reputation of the individual or organisation hosting the event.
  • Some speakers may not be experienced at online teaching and may come across differently from how they would in person.
  • Some people may not be willing to engage online out of choice or through a lack of understanding of the technology.

How can I ensure that my online session runs smoothly?

  • Plan out your programme with timings included (see Session Planning).
  • Check that visual aids like Microsoft Powerpoint and Prezi work effectively with the software.
  • If a speaker is nervous, encourage them to rehearse. Reassure them that you will be present if they need help.
  • Practise a backup plan in case a speaker is cut off for any reason.
  • If possible, ask a colleague to monitor the chat pane for you. This keeps your focus on your presentation.
  • Start and finish the session on time.
  • Mute all participant microphones to reduce any background noise. Only enable them when needed.
  • For participants that have not used web conferencing software before, give a demonstration of the key features.
  • Make sure that any mobile phones are kept well away from the computer, otherwise there may be intermittent mobile signal noise.
  • Practise using alternative tools and techniques to suit a wide audience (see Accessibility).
  • Make copies of any presentation materials in case you need to upload them.
  • Get to know your speaker's session. If they are having technical difficulties, you might need to run their presentation.

Organise a practice session to:

  • Check that invitation emails are working effectively.
  • Check the audio levels of any speakers involved and test their equipment.
  • Rehearse the programme for the online session and check the timings.
  • Make a quick 5 minute recording of the session to check the recording works.
  • Run through the software functions with your speaker and check their understanding
Click on the links below for further advice from the professionals.

What to do before you step onto the virtual stage…

Roger Courville tells you how to be a rock star

"Practice, practice, practice!"...

Michelle Parish tells you how practice makes perfect

What online facilitators can learn from rock stars