5 Common Mistakes Online Facilitators Make

virtual leadership, leadership training, mindful leadership, small business, leadership skills, online leadership skills

5 Common Mistakes Online Facilitators Make

Online facilitators are prone to take numerous and varied risks, as they tend to be trendsetters!  These risks may cause others to perceive them as ‘losers,’ especially when they fail, and risk takers fail, it’s inevitable. If our online leaders don’t have full knowledge of what their endeavors consist of before they become involved, failure can result. Some mistakes come from thinking so radically and acting so outside the box, that it’s impossible to know how taking a chance will turn out. If it turns out well, the online leader is a hero. If not, a program, project or virtual team can falter.

A well thought out training program has many moving parts that a facilitator must successfully manage. People new to facilitation are often unaware of their own actions, mannerisms and facilitation style, especially those tendencies that may be having an adverse effect on the participants’ learning.

The Most Common Mistakes Made by Online Facilitators Are Completely Avoidable

There are some common mistakes made among most online facilitators that are avoidable if you know some facilitation and leadership strategies. Here are five common mistakes which can and should be avoided if you’re in an online leadership and facilitation role:

  1. Launching directly into the material, without providing a road map of where the attendees and the program are headed. As a skilled facilitator, you want to begin with an overview for your attendees, this allows them to mentally prepare and organize, in fact we recommend pre-reading materials, so your attendees are prepped before they ever arrive to you online program or meeting.
  2. Sticking to the planned program without deviation, rather than meeting needs of participants right now. Are you focusing on tasks, worksheets or you outline without allowing participants to engage at a deeper level? Remind yourself of the ultimate goal. Focusing too much on “busy work” can keep you from getting the results you want and desire from a team. Great facilitators tend to focus on the end results being reached more than keeping their participants “busy” at all times.
  3. Allowing uneven participation, or giving more air time to extroverts or people from the dominant culture. As online facilitators, we must acknowledge, prepare for and encourage participation from all attendees, including those from different cultures and those for whom language might be a bit of a barrier. This is why we encourage multiple ways to allow your team or participants to engage; such as chat boxes, polls, Q & A sessions and the ability to raise their hand during your classes, meetings or online programs.
  4. Making yourself the center of attention. If an online facilitator revels in the attention he or she is given by being under the spotlight, then this person should not be facilitating a training program. Facilitators must place themselves second to each and every participant in the class.
  5. Squeezing too much in without time for integration. When conducting the training program’s activities, it is important to also keep in mind that the debriefing portion of an activity is just as important as the set up and the actual activity itself. As a successful online facilitator, you must give participants the opportunity to step back for a moment from an activity and review what happened during it. Let them search out how they feel about what has happened and determine what the experience ultimately means for them.

Online Facilitators Must Be Prepared to Lead

Once you know what’s expected of you in the online leadership position of being a virtual facilitator, you can prepare and lead your team and attendees to success much more easily. You can’t lead others if you don’t know what you’re striving for, so be sure you’re clear and focused on the overall vision rather than the small tasks or activities you want participants to complete. Rather focus on engagement and retention, it is much more productive to deliver a phenomenal program that your participants rave about, while skipping one or two exercises than to force compliance and be so inflexible that you miss organic moments of learning which will present themselves naturally during your time with your team or students.


Very best wishes for your every success,


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