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Claire Doole is a former BBC correspondent and international spokeswoman who is passionate about helping people communicate with confidence. Since 2006, she has successfully trained hundreds of professionals in the art of presenting and public speaking, talking to the media, managing communications in a crisis, and writing for the web. In addition, she has coached C-level executives and public figures to give powerful TEDx and TED style talks in Europe and the Middle East. A Swiss and UK national, Claire trains and coaches in French and English.

Claire is also a highly experienced moderator having facilitated panel discussions with government ministers, NGO activists, humanitarians and human rights specialists at major events.

www.doolecommunications.com

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By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

"It ain't so much the things that people don't know that makes trouble in this world, as it is the things that people know that ain't so." This is one of the many quotes attributed to 19th Century American writer Mark Twain and it definitely applies to presenting.

Many people think they are good presenters – mostly because people are too polite to tell them they are not, or in the case of senior people because no one dares tell them!

Presenters themselves also have a blind spot. This month I was asked to train a number of speakers taking part in virtual conferences. I blocked time in my diary and waited for the Doodle calendar to fill up. Two things happened – some people were too busy, others left it to the last moment.

This only confirmed to me another great quote about public speaking. This time by the American comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, who said, “According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” People who don’t like public speaking tend to put off preparing their presentation until the last minute.

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By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

Are you getting bored of virtual events which go on for hours, with one speaker after another or one panel after another? Often the most gripping moment is seeing how the moderator copes with the technical glitches or closes down the speakers who go over time!

Far too many event organisers have not understood the difference between what goes into a virtual one as opposed to face-to-face. They try to replicate their usual half-day, full-day or two-day event online without thinking about the audience experience.

Having moderated many virtual events in the past 7 months, I firmly believe that organisers will need to work harder as the pandemic continues to retain audience share. Audiences are going to be more selective, only tuning in to events that are well produced, informative and insightful.

dosanddonts

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

Are you suffering from Zoom fatigue as you rush from one online meeting to another? I am using Zoom as shorthand for all the different platforms that are jostling to sign you up as a customer. In my opinion, Zoom is by far the most interactive and participatory platform, although MS Teams and Webex are catching up.

But the platform is not the biggest challenge to facilitating an online meeting. According to participants in my eWorkshops it is the passive audience, made even worse when people turn off their cameras! Number two, by the way, is lack of non-verbal cues and number three technical glitches.

As a meeting facilitator you have to work hard to get and keep people’s attention. And even harder if you want to break through the virtual divide and get people to engage and participate. In the real world, our brain switches off every 10 minutes if it is not stimulated, so imagine how quickly it tunes out in the virtual world.

The solution is to view facilitating a meeting like running a training session. You have to borrow tools and techniques from training to build engagement and participation.

Here are some of my most effective tools to boost your meeting.

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By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

Until COVID-19 struck, my virtual training consisted of coaching over Skype for clients I couldn't meet face to face.

Today all my training is conducted virtually over numerous other platforms; clients highly rate the experience and learning and development departments are happy to be able to provide this opportunity for their staff's personal development while working remotely.

In the past 6 weeks, I have been running eWorkshops in writing, moderating, storytelling, presenting, media and job interviews and speechwriting.

This is what I have learnt about what makes a successful virtual learning experience.

EWorkshops not webinars

Clients are telling me they much prefer an eWorkshop, which is interactive and participatory rather than watching a YouTube video or attending a webinar, which is usually a PowerPoint Presentation with Q&A.

I know from my attempts to do yoga online that what I really miss is the individual feedback on what I am doing wrong!

With eWorkshops, participants can get that individual feedback just like in the face-to-face training room experience, as long as the group is no more than 8 people.

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Moderating remotely

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

Are you, like me, experiencing your own pandemic of webinars and meetings over various videoconference applications such as Zoom (my favourite), WebEx and Microsoft Team Meetings?

Are you that person who now turns off their camera citing connectivity issues so that you can focus on something else rather than actively take part in the videoconference? Or, as a friend related, that person who strategically places themselves with their back to the window or light so that all people see on the call is their silhouette?

It may be because the moderator is just failing to engage you and manage your limited attention span. That is not a criticism. We all have more limited attention spans when we are on these remote calls.

Here are some of my tips and techniques for moderating remotely so you captivate your audience. They are based on my experience as a former TV and radio journalist, panel moderator, public speaker and remote and in person trainer.