Engagement beats technical difficulties

technical difficultiesEarlier this year, I designed and facilitated an online workshop that was marred by technical difficulties. The workshop was several hours long, and some (but not all) of the participants reported that my video feed froze at times. Luckily, my audio feed was fine.

Shortly afterward, I talked to a client who had participated in the workshop. I asked them about their workshop experience.

I couldn’t see you half the time,” they said.

Uh oh.

But it didn’t matter.


Yes, they loved the workshop.

Like many of my workshops, this one was about creating meaningful participation and engagement at events. And, as usual, it focused on experiential, active learning. Learning through experience, not by listening to me.

As long as my directions for the exercises could be heard, the participants didn’t need to see me for the workshop to be successful. The workshop wasn’t about me; it was about the participants’ learning experiences as they engaged with each other. It was about the experiential learning that took place, both about the others present and the ways the learning occurred through engagement.

Now, let’s flip this scenario for a moment.

Imagine an online meeting lasting several hours that is technically flawless but has no significant engagement.

I’ve “attended” countless meetings of this sort, and you probably have too.

None of these meetings were memorable. (Except perhaps a few especially excruciating ones that I had to attend for some unfortunate reason.)

I suspect you’ve forgotten 99% of such engagement-free meetings. Feel free to let me know if that isn’t the case.

I say 99% because there are a few people, like Paula Poundstone, to whom I would be happy to listen for hours. And perhaps you’ve had the good fortune to attend a meeting with someone like her. Alas, most engagement-free meetings don’t include a Poundstone.

I rest my case.

Meaningful engagement at events beats technical difficulties every time.


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