One of the advantages of the rapid immersion into online facilitation over the past three months is that I have an instant means to assess myself. Most of the participants I work with, primarily on Zoom, want a recording of the session. What an opportunity! I replay the sessions I facilitate and host, within a day or two, and then again in the following weeks, to see how I have improved.
When I facilitated in-person sessions, I rarely video-recorded myself for various reasons. I move around; I would need to ask someone to video the session; participants might feel uneasy to have a camera person walking around; and typically, the length of the session was usually over three hours.
On Zoom sessions, I usually facilitate for 60 to 90 minutes; the recording is built-in and runs unnoticed in the background. Of course, I ask and gain permission participants to record. I find that participants agree much more willingly than during in-person sessions.
I need to be very objective to watch myself on the recordings. However, I got over the vanity factor quickly! It is easier than I thought because I see myself in the Zoom session gallery. I got over how I look and concentrate on my behaviour, words, delivery, and listening skills.
What have I learned from watching the videos?
- I like that I smile frequently.
- I like the warmth and friendly approach that I use while, at the same time, being professional.
- I like that I encourage participants to speak, to listen, to share their knowledge.
- I like that I honour competencies of a facilitator as developed by the International Association of Facilitators.
- I like that I adapt techniques to best suit the needs of the participants as they arise during the session.
- I like that I intently listen.
I want to change:
- I learned that I usually ask questions two times. I don’t know if I did this during in-person sessions. I will ask a question and within two seconds, say it again, with only one or two different words. It is not because of silence. I repeat it again too quickly for anyone to have a chance to be silent. And I am very comfortable with participants being silent as it is their silence.
- Solution: I will ask a clear and understandable question one time. I’ll watch the recordings to see how I improve.
- I notice that when I listen intently, I have a serious expression on my face, to the point of being stern. I know that I have a “resting solemn face” and now see that it could be misinterpreted as disagreement or anger.
- Solution: Well, my face is what it is! I am now aware of how I look when listening and concentrating and deliberately relax my face muscles, nod, and smile as appropriate.
- I learned that I over-explain a technique. I repeat instructions from small groups (breakout rooms) at least two, and sometimes, three times. I think participants can likely understand if I explain clearly the first time.
- Solution: As part of my preparation, I will deliberately review my instructions and practice to keep them short and clear.