A few years ago, I was conducting a dry run of a new virtual workshop for a client. The client team had agonized over the slide design, visuals, and color choices. The end result was beautiful and they loved their slide deck. About mid-way through the dry run, the head of marketing stopped me. In an aggravated tone, he said, "With all that typing and uneven highlighting on the slides, you are making our slides look messy and unattractive."
From his point of view, I was desecrating fine art. From my point of view, I was engaging visibly in the classroom. When I asked the entire group including the Director of Marketing what the goal of the program was, they all agreed that it was about training their staff on crucial skills needed in the workplace. Their staff had to retain the information and take action on it. My advice based on this? Get messy!
When I'm teaching in the virtual classroom or giving a virtual presentation, I am constantly annotating on the screen. I may be simply moving a pointer or I may be using a highlighter to circle and underline key points. The reason this is important makes sense when you compare it to in-person facilitation. We use gestures to visually punctuate our delivery. In the virtual classroom, annotation functions in much the same way. Things moving on the screen capture the eye and attention of participants. It also helps our global colleagues whose primary language may be different from the language we're using for instruction. From an instructional perspective, anything we do to help participants stay engaged and know what is important to focus on increases the likelihood they will understand and retain the content.
The next time you are in the virtual classroom, find your annotation tools and take time to play with them. Get messy! By using them in a purposeful and liberal way, you'll feel more connected to the content and your participants will be more engaged.