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September132021
Little Used Zoom Tools for Maximum Learner Engagement

Carrie E. Kirby

09.13.21 | Operations Chat

Although virtual training has been around for 25 years, everyone was forced to embrace it within the last 18 months. Most often, polls and chats are the go-to tools for engaging your learners. But did you know there are several other built-in tools you can use?

Below are some of my favorites in Zoom Meetings*, but most web-based meeting applications have equivalents. The main advantage? They help you compete for your learners’ attention by pulling them back to your screen and your content.

Green Check/Red X

Are your learners on the same page as you? Check-in using the Green Checks (Yes) and Red Xs (No) under the Reactions button. Green Checks and Red Xs allow you to scan the virtual room to see if learners are following along. The Host and Co-Hosts can identify who needs help or if you can move on. For example, you can share a personal story and ask, “Have you ever experienced something similar? Give me a Green Check or a Red X.” You’ll know how many can relate to your story and who could share their experience with the group.

Zoom Backgrounds

Zoom Backgrounds display behind you when using your webcam. They’re a quick way to learn something about each other and create connections without having a discussion. Learners can upload a favorite vacation location or the logo of their favorite sports team; or you can provide them with a background that identifies their communication or leadership style.

Annotation Tools

Did you know that learners can draw on whatever screen is being displayed using Annotation tools? For example, have them draw lines to match items on separate lists, check off correct answers in a row, circle a button they need to click on, etc. The Host can clear the Annotations at any time and save a screenshot for future reference.

White Boards

Used with Annotation tools, White Boards are blank white canvases on which learners can write or draw. They’re great for brainstorming, mind-mapping, flowcharts, or drawing pictures just for fun. The Host can save a screenshot of the White Board for future reference.

Breakout Rooms

Breakout Rooms are the new small group activities for a virtual space. Use them to divide people into smaller groups that are less intimidating and promote participation. Rooms can be randomized or set up in advance, and they can end after a specific number of minutes. The secret to good breakout rooms? Activities with a defined purpose, clear instructions, and an engaging facilitator who will get people talking but won’t dominate the conversation.

Share Screens

Have learners share their screens so you can see what they’re doing. In a software training, it’s a fast way to see where they clicked (or didn’t) to complete an activity. In breakout rooms, you can brainstorm and have one person share their screen and take notes on the discussion; everyone can see what they are typing and suggest additions or corrections as needed.

Take Control

Worried about having learners share their screens? Share your screen and let learners “Take Control.” One at a time, each person can control your screen and work through an exercise or add items to a list. It’s a little less involved than having people share their own screens.

Don’t be afraid to break out of your training rut! Which tools will you try?

*Quick notes: (1) most of these settings have to be enabled before you schedule the meeting, (2) different versions of Zoom Meetings exist, so check your account settings to see what’s available, and (3) you’ll need to educate your learners on how to use the features at the beginning of your training.

Questions: I can be reached at 212.331.7623 | ckirby@berdonllp.com.

Carrie E. Kirby, Director of Education and Learning at Berdon LLP, is a Learning and Development professional with more than 10 years of experience working in professional services environments. She co-authored the award-winning paper, “Flipping the Corporate Classroom: Challenging the Norm in Legal Technology Training,” and her creative approach to training at Berdon was featured in the 2019 Accounting Today article, “Practice Profile: Escaping every day education.”

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