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Thursday, June 18, 2020
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Since late last year, I had done numerous webinars. But none with a class size of 23 people. It was the largest I had ever done online.

As much as I would have loved to do this class in person, safe distancing measures effectively means classroom lessons were not allowed. And I can understand why - after a full day's session to speaking, I could basically see the dried up stains left on the screens of my laptop and iPad - no joke. Imagine the intensity of the germ clouds overhanging within an enclosed space of 20-30 people.

But I enjoyed it greatly, these virtual classroom lessons - You can actually learn a lot by doing webinars.

After conducting numerous business and valuation classes on Zoom and hosting a couple of webinars, I grew accustomed to the feeling of speaking using the headset or earphones to a group of people I couldn't really see. Like most trainers, I am used to the traditional classroom setting with physical interaction and discussion. On Zoom, while there is still interactivity through the microphone or through the chat functions, I felt that the single most important element that was missing is spontaneity - the fun of making a random comment or remark and receive almost instantaneously, a knee jerk response from someone in class.

And because the courses I conduct are largely hands-on, the difficulty level goes up a notch because if someone encounters a problem in their workings, it is more challenging to try and troubleshoot those for them as compared to just walking up to them in a classroom and doing it right there. I also hope that most of our participants were using two screens to stream the webinar - one for the presentation slides and the other for their spreadsheet workings. I can't imagine the struggle faced by those who are toggling between windows on a single laptop.

But these two months had been an incredible learning process - not only on how to conduct a smooth online lecture, but also how to more effectively engage people over a video meeting. This involves constantly asking questions, shorter but more frequent coffee breaks, being comfortable in being able to laugh at oneself even though you may not be able to see everyone else's expressions, clarity of speech and many more.

I'm on track to be a "Zoom master". While I can say that I'm getting the hang of doing this online, I sincerely hope that the offline workshops will return along with the easing of travel and movement restrictions.

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