Tips, tricks and techniques to facilitate successful role-play sessions online
Role-plays are firm favourites with learners and trainers, but only if they’re run properly. You’ll be familiar with how to work them in an on-site class situation. Small groups with a coach are ideal; the fishbowl lost its allure.
Here’s how you can mirror your success with role-plays using the online approach.
- Embrace positivity in your naming conventions. I like to call them Skill MOTs or Skill Services.
- Remember the acronym POD. Pre-brief first, then observation, and finally, debrief. These are the steps of a field visit for a sales manager.
- The context is MEDIC. Motivate, explain, demonstrate, imitate and coach. These are the steps a sales manager carries out when training salespeople on new skills and techniques. Role-play appears as the 4th step – imitation.
- The demonstration is essential before any role-play; otherwise, they won’t know what good looks like. If they’re new to the role, provide an exemplar: a video clip or a demo from you.
Choose the one thing that makes all the difference. The first domino that’ll knock the rest over
- If you train a large group, you’ll want to break them down into smaller cohorts. Triads of three learners per group is ideal. Each group will need a coach to run the group. Use breakout facilities with your platform – Zoom and Teams both have them.
- With more experienced groups, a group “leader” would be needed rather than a coach and teach them how to coach and give feedback. The group can choose a leader, or the person with the most experience typically cuts it.
- One coach per three learners. Create a grid so that each person plays alternate parts, i.e. role-player, customer and coach.
- With presentation practice, you’ll need an audience; this gives everyone else a purpose to play.
- Instead of a large group broken down into smaller triad teams, change your timing so each triad is brought online in their hour slot rather than occupying everyone for three hours.
- Recordings are precious aids to learning. Provide them before or directly after your coaching feedback.
- If the clips are short, then you could email them. Sometimes an MP3 version is enough to have rather than the MP4 video file, a whole lot smaller too.
- Email links using your cloud storage.
- You could ask them to record locally on their computer. Teams and Zoom allows for this.
- The person who plays the “customer” can be a colleague or ANO.
- ANO or any other could be an actor paid to appear at a particular time online or a colleague within the business who is not participating in the role-play. Anyone can rock up online; that’s the beauty of it.
- Create your scenarios carefully and send them to all participants to prepare.
- Coaching and feedback is the crucial aspect of role-plays.
- Self-coaching can be achieved via watching a recording.
- Use “hot seat” coaching. This is where you stop the role-play halfway and offer feedback before continuing.
- Teach everyone to self-assess themselves first
- Shower the learner with positives from their role-play. Keep to the ratio of 5:1. Five positives for every improvement piece. Suggest alternative ways rather than what you think they did wrong.
- The actor can give a first impression and no more. Ask them for an overall appearance that the role-player made.
- SPAM is the model – self-discovery, positives, alternatives and meaningful overall impact.
- When choosing the alternative to suggest, attempt one of many. Choose the one thing that makes all the difference. The first domino that’ll knock the rest over.
- When you’ve done all the feedback, ask them what they want to keep/change for next time. Make a note for when you revisit them.
- You need notes to observe and give feedback
- The easiest method is the T Bar. Take an A4 blank sheet and draw a large T. The left is positive, and the right is suggested alternatives. That’s all. Evidence is vital if you’re compliance checking.
- Once finished observing I like to take a red pen and circle all the positives and the alternatives, ensuring I stick to the 5:1 ratio.