s we have all experienced, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on all aspects of our lives, not least as a result of the lockdown imposed in many countries to protect lives and slow down the spread of the Covid-19 virus. One side effect of this measure has been the widespread use of video conferencing applications in all spheres of life – social, professional, and educational. This has had clear environmental benefits with air quality, for example, having quickly improved in previously highly polluted parts of our cities. Businesses that had not previously considered alternatives to face-to-face interactions will certainly have noted the cost-savings and efficiency gains of having staff working from home interacting virtually with one another and with external business partners such as suppliers and clients.
Schools and universities were also relatively quick in moving from the physical classroom to the safety of virtual environments. The shift placed many teachers, especially those to whom this form of teaching was new, under a great deal of strain, as they quickly mastered unfamiliar software and learned how to manage the new channels to interact as engagingly as possible with their students. And although, generally speaking, they feel at home in our digital world, students also had to quickly become acquainted with and grow accustomed to their new online classrooms.
Despite their shortcomings, readily available video conferencing applications such as Zoom and Google Meet have offered viable options for transferring meetings, training sessions and lessons to the virtual sphere. However, working, teaching and studying virtually also have their challenges. Trainers and teachers, for example, need to ensure that the online learning experience they provide is well-designed, which can be extremely time-consuming. For staff members and students, the need to perform under pressure can also present its unique challenges in an online environment.
As we have seen, meeting online is likely to become increasingly popular as an alternative to in-person gatherings that in many cases were actually not so effective. And presenting in these virtual settings is a good example of having to perform under pressure online and it is a skill that will increasingly be called for in both corporate and educational contexts, and corporate trainers and educationalists should certainly provide training and opportunities to experience and practise this key area of virtual business communication. In my work with the FOM Hochschule, students have been encouraged to do just this, and what follows is an example of what can be achieved in a relatively short time.
Two of my students, Hannah and Marisa, have very kindly agreed to allow their recently given short presentation to be used for training purposes. Here is a short extract from their presentation on user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design.
In this short extract, it is worth noting how the speaker effectively combines the use of her attractively designed, easy to read slides with two short videos and her commentary to quickly and humorously illustrate the difference between UI and UX. Also of note is her relaxed, well-paced and natural-sounding delivery and the command the speaker has over both the topic and the media she is using.
here is much to commend in the presentation, not least of which is the students’ willingness to embrace the environment they were obliged to use and, rather than being overwhelmed or inhibited by having to present in the virtual space, they “accepted the challenge” and set about using the possibilities it offered them to engage and involve their audience of fellow marketing and digital media students in an informative, well-constructed and highly relevant 10-minute presentation.