The Quest #152: Greatest Hits – The #1 reason that online sessions fail

Hello friends,

Greetings from Kerala, India ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ where I’ll be on a learning journey with my husband. For the first time in ages, I won’t be taking my laptop.

While I’m gone I’ll be sharing some of The Quest’s “greatest hits” – the most-read editions of the newsletter to date.

What’s the #1 reason most live online sessions fail?

It’s not the tech glitches or the “difficult” participants who don’t want to engage.

The real culprit?


You’ve probably experienced it.

If you’ve ever suffered through an exhausting session, you’ll know what I mean. You join the call. The presenter drones on. You are expected to sit in front of your screen and listen.

And then comes the awkward silence…

When the time comes for questions you’ve been so busy answering emails you have no idea what is going on in the session. Neither does anyone else.

Online sessions are a different world.

Designing for it means designing your session specifically for the way we interact online. And it goes to the heart of the question I get asked most often “How do I engage my virtual audiences.”

How can you banish bad design? That’s our Quest for this week.

๐Ÿ‘‰ IDEO’s Primer on Experience Design

๐Ÿ‘‰ Why Virtual Meetings Feel So Weird

๐Ÿ‘‰ My 10 Golden Rules for Designing Exceptional Online Sessions

โœจExperience Design: Four Ways to Make Your Next Event Unforgettable

An IDEO podcast episode with PlayLab team members Jenny Gottstein and Olivia Vagelos.

Learning the basics of experience design has helped me design way better sessions. This podcast is the best primer on experience design that I have come across.

This is how IDEO defines experience design:

โ€œExperience design is the crafting of distinct, memorable, transformative moments in time.โ€

Experience designers arenโ€™t just designing what people might do. They are also designed for what people might feel.

Well-designed experiences change your audience in some way. This could be a shift in feelings, beliefs, or actions.

They outline 4 things you can do to make any experience better with intentional design.

๐Ÿ‘‰Know your audience. Who are they and what do they care about?

๐Ÿ‘‰Design an opening moment. This is the opportunity to set the tone and rules of engagement.

๐Ÿ‘‰Design a closing moment. Use the ending moment to offer inspiration and closure.

๐Ÿ‘‰Prototype your process. Plan every last detail and practice ahead of time to work out the kinks.

Listen to the full podcast ๐Ÿ‘‰ here.

Whatโ€™s an event that you could re-design to become unforgettable?

Thanks to Chris Malapitan for helping me to sketch this out.

๐ŸคทWhy Do Virtual Meetings Feel So Weird?

An article from American Scientist by University of Texas at Austin linguistic anthropologist Elizabeth Keating.

One of the biggest challenges with online meetings is that we donโ€™t have the body language and social cues that we have in person. This article helped me understand exactly why this is so important.

Here are my 3 biggest takeaways๐Ÿ‘‡

๐Ÿ‘‰The Power of Seeing and Being Seen

In-person interactions thrive on mutual awareness. Online, we lose the nuance of seeing and being seen, making it harder to feel connected.

๐Ÿ‘‰The Silent Conversation

Nonverbal cues form two-thirds of our communication. In digital spaces, we must actively seek feedback to understand these silent signals.

๐Ÿ‘‰The “Water Cooler” Effect

Casual office interactions foster bonds and learning. Online, we must creatively engineer these serendipitous moments to create connection.

Read the full article ๐Ÿ‘‰ here.

Thanks to Rick Ingrasci for sharing this article.

๐ŸŒŸMy 10 Golden Rules for Designing Live Online Sessions

I had a go at putting together my 10 “Golden Rules” for designing online sessions.

But I got stuck on #10.

So I I posted it on LinkedIn asking for ideas. I was blown away by the response.

Join the conversation hereโ€‹

๐Ÿ’Œ Thanks for reading The Quest

I always love hearing your feedback and suggestions. Just hit reply to share your thoughts and ideas.

If you were forwarded this email, you can subscribe to The Quest ๐Ÿ‘‰here.โ€‹

If you enjoy The Quest, I’d appreciate it if you shared it with anyone you think might like it.

Creatively yours,

Whenever you are ready there are 2 more ways I can help you:

๐Ÿ‘‰Custom coaching & team training. Book a free 15-minute zero-commitment call with me to see how I can support you and your team.

๐Ÿ‘‰5-week Live Online Course. The Breakthrough Facilitation course gives you tools, personalized feedback, and a proven framework for designing and leading high-engagement live sessions. Join the interest list and be the first to get the next cohort dates and discounts.

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