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A Guide To Developing Live Virtual Group Education

Version 1.0, July 2021

Step 4: Create your content and structure

Now that you know who your participants are, their needs and what virtual platforms are available to you, it's time to develop your content. The steps below will help walk you through the process.

A. Design your virtual group education (framework)


  • How long do you want your virtual group education to be?
    Learning virtually can be hard for some people. Try to limit your virtual group education to less than 1 hour and include at least one break. If this won't be enough time, consider breaking your content into multiple sessions.
  • Note to self: Try to keep the session under 1 hour to prevent virtual fatigue.

  • What teaching style do you want to use?
    Based on the feedback you received in Step 2, how do you intended to deliver your content? Will it be a lecture presentation or more interactive? Each of these will have timing considerations, interactive activities may take longer than you think.
  • How many participants will be involved?
    The group size can impact your ability to include interactive activities. The larger the group, the more complex it is to monitor and facilitate conversations. If your group will be larger, you may want to look at what other tools you can use such as polls and reactions.
  • How will you check learning?
    When teaching, it is important to check-in with your participants to ensure learning and to allow time for questions and clarifications. What teaching methods will you use to do this? Are you going to make those check-ins available through interactive tools, chat boxes or facilitated discussions?
  • What level of interactivity do you want?
    If you plan to have participants interact with one another, consider:
    • your participants’ comfort using technology
    • the time it will take both to run an activity and return from it
    • if you will need other people to help such as co-facilitators
    • how you will troubleshoot possible technical issues
    • your organization’s privacy policies
    Smaller groups often allow for better interaction and engagement. If you are working with a small group or using breakout room features, consider starting with an icebreaker. This may help your participants become familiar with one another and feel more comfortable to participate. The icebreaker can also be used as a chance to practice using the virtual platform features like reactions, polling or how to turn on and off their mic.
  • Could you benefit from a co-facilitator?
    This may help you focus on your teaching. They can also help monitor interactive components like chat functions and provide important back-up support if you experience technical problems.
  • Are you planning to offer simultaneous interpretation?
    If so, you will need to deliver your presentation at a slower pace and allow for pauses so the interpreter can keep up with you.
  • Will your presentation be easy to view on a variety of screens?
    People may be on a variety of screen sizes with various technical settings. Images or text may not appear as you had intended. For example, small text or complex images may be difficult for many of your participants to view.

B. Consider your goals

Now that you have a framework, you can begin to create your content. To ensure it is concise, relevant and relatable to your participants, consider:

  • What 2 to 3 key topics do you want to include?
    Select the topics based on your audience (Step 1), identified needs (Step 2) and the information you want them to have.
  • What 2 to 3 key messages are most important for each topic?
    Use these to help you create your learning objectives. Write them out using the following format: “By the end of the virtual group education, the participants will be able to…”
    For more information: Writing Learning Objectives (Boston University); Quick tips: Writing goals and learning objectives (University of Toronto)
  • What health practices do you want your audience to adopt or enhance?
    Explain why these practices will benefit their health and overall well-being. Make sure these align with what is endorsed by your interprofessional clinical teams (Step 2). Include tips and resources that will help adopt and maintain new practices.
  • What health behaviours do you want them to monitor or stop?
    Tell them why and how this will benefit their health and overall well-being. Provide specific strategies and tools to help them succeed. Include tips and resources that outline small, attainable goals that support change.
  • How do you plan to make your content relatable?
    People are often inspired by lived experiences and stories. If using real-life cases or videos, make sure they are current, relevant and likely to resonate with your intended audience (Steps 1 and 2). You may also want to invite someone with lived experience to speak or co-facilitate your session.

If your organization has a Patient and Family Education program, contact them for advice on developing your goals. They can provide valuable insights and tools.

C. Build your presentation

Most virtual platforms allow you to show presentation slides. These can be helpful for those who prefer to see or read information as you speak. If using slides, make sure your presentation is easy to read on a variety of devices and is written in plain language. This will make it more accessible to everyone.

If you are creating slides:

  • Use a standardized, accessible slide template
    If your organization has a branded template, use it. If not, check that your choice of font, colour combinations and background shading all meet accessibility standards by using a contrast checker.
  • Note to self: Use a contrast checker to meet accessibility standards.

  • Include a series of introductory slides that have:
    • Information on inclusion and equity, such as a Land Acknowledgment
    • Information about the presenters, such as their names, roles, and what program or the organization they represent
    • An overview of the session, such as when there will be breaks, what types of interactions to expect, how to ask questions, whether the session is being recorded, and if and how the recording can be viewed later
    • Ground rules and group norms (see example in Appendix I)
    • Learning objectives (what you will be covering - Step 4B)
  • Design your slides so they:
    • Have a maximum of 6 to 8 bullets per slide
    • Have just enough text to reinforce your message. It can be overwhelming for the participants to read and listen at the same time.
    • Use a consistent font and ensure the size is large enough to read easily.
    • Use a font that is easy to read. Do not use fancy or script lettering.
    • Use bold font or a box to emphasize text instead of italics as this can be difficult for some people to read
    • Use sentence case. Avoid all upper case text.
    • Have lots of "white space" around your text and images. This allows your participants to easily read and understand what they are seeing.
  • Repeat and summarize main points throughout your slides
    This is important to enhance learning and give participants time to reflect on the content you have presented.
  • Add placeholders for interactive segments
    This could include polls or voting buttons, quizzes, annotation, chat boxes, reactions, and direct participant interaction through microphone and video.
  • Incorporate concluding slides
    Provide recommended resources, your contact information and any follow up activities that will be distributed (such as feedback surveys).
  • Use images ONLY when relevant to your topic
    If you include images, make sure they represent your content, your audience and their communities effectively. Also check that you have copyright permission to use these images and properly acknowledge them.
    For more information: How to use (or Not Use) Stock Photos (CommunicateHealth)
  • Use graphs and charts ONLY if they help explain the information
    Make sure they are simple and easy to read. Summarize the takeaway or findings as they may not be easy to interpret without direction.
  • Avoid or minimize the use of live animations
    They can be distracting for facilitators and learners.

D. Incorporate evaluation tools

As you design your presentation, also think about how you will evaluate it and what feedback you would like. A strong evaluation plan will allow you to collect meaningful data about your session, gauge its success and help improve it in the future. This will also help when you evaluate virtual group education more globally (Step 9). If you choose to collect data, remember to ask others to review your survey questions for clarity and personally test the feedback tool before delivering your virtual group education. Ask others to test it as well to make sure it is easy to use.

Some things to consider as you create your evaluation questions are:

  • How will you measure your success in meeting the goals for the session?
    Use the learning objectives you developed in Step 4B to create your questions. See sample questions in Appendix II.
  • What else do you want feedback on?
    Feedback on content, length, format, and relevance may all be useful. Your colleagues and leadership may also suggest other evaluation measures. For example, getting feedback on the education impact can be used to inform content and funding proposals.
  • What survey tools are available to you?
    You may have access to survey tools through your chosen platform. If using external applications, read their privacy guidelines for data storage. If the external survey tool can't be safely incorporated into your chosen virtual platform, you will need to plan for other methods of survey distribution.
    For more information: Zoom Polling for Meetings; See sample tool in Appendix II
  • How will you keep responses anonymous if polling during the virtual group education session?
    It's important that participants feel at ease when responding to feedback surveys.

Action Items

  • Decide on the length, format and flow of your session
  • Consult your organization's Patient and Family Education program for guidance on how to create effective content and learning objectives
  • Find out if your organization has standardized slide templates
  • Design your presentation so it addresses 2 to 3 topics, with 2 to 3 key messages per topic
  • Make sure your slides are clear, concise, easy to read and visually appealing
  • Incorporate evaluation and feedback measures into your session