Congratulations, Group Leader! You’ve chosen your tour location. You’ve scheduled (and promoted) an informational parent meeting. Up next, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and… host a virtual parent-teacher conference for a whole bunch of adults you may or may not know. Easy, right?
The good news is, we know your presentation skills are already top tier, simply by virtue of being a teacher. The better news: Your Tour Consultant will work with you one on one to make sure you have all the materials and resources you need—whether that’s a personalized PowerPoint or a rehearsal session. And the best news? Our Global Education Ambassadors (experienced Group Leaders who love helping other teachers) shared their top tips for hosting an online meeting so you can hit the virtual ground running.
“Encourage travelers to invite their friends and family. Since the meeting is digital, I’ve had students’ cousins from other U.S. states attend the meeting—and eventually, the trip—as well.”
“Record the meeting so anyone who can’t make it can still hear all of the great questions and comments that were addressed.”
“Have a slideshow of previous trips running as people log in, along with student quotes about how much they loved their trip. Also, have people set to mute upon entry.”
“I have a student-made video playing as people log in. In the chat box, I write: “Hello! We will get started at this time: __. For now, please enjoy a student-made video from our previous trip to see what an EF tour is like from a student’s perspective.’”
“Always have an activity at the start. I’ve done a Kahoot with fun facts about both EF and locations on our itinerary.”
“Rehearse your presentation for your virtual parent-teacher conference on Zoom or whatever platform you’ll be using. Use an ethernet cable to ensure bandwidth is adequate. I prefer Sway to PowerPoint just because it’s so flexible.”
“One benefit of having a digital setting is being able to use Google Street Maps to give parents a glimpse at the places we’ll be traveling to. This tends to ease their minds, because they can now picture where their children will be going instead of having to imagine it.”
“Create a group on Discord or make Instagram stories or TikToks highlighting attractions or nature from the locations you’re visiting. Students love being able to relate to something they’ve seen before.”
“The chat feature on Zoom is amazing! Have another teacher or chaperone monitor it for you as you present so it’s not too overwhelming for you.”
“We used Zoom to do a live cooking class with our Tour Director, Eva, who showed us how to make pasta carbonara.”
“Have a former parent or student traveler join to speak about the educational benefits and value that travel has had on their life. Parents need to understand that this is an investment in their child’s future.”
“We had a live call with our Tour Director, Mike, who taught us an Irish song. It really made the idea of the trip come alive!”
“Make the presentation interactive. Nearpod is a great tool to help engage all participants!”
“I’ve found that people on Zoom can kind of disengage after a period of time. So, I keep sound effects on my computer. It’s a great way to keep the meetings interesting.”
“Add your own personal touch to the meeting. Make it fun by playing music, using a virtual background, or doing a dress-up contest. Be creative!”
“Use the chat to poll the parents! It truly creates a sense of community when people can see what others are thinking. For example, ask ‘What is one thing you would like your child to see on tour?’ It’s really simple, but really effective when trying to bring a virtual meeting together.”
“We’ve played digital games like Among Us and Spaceteam to build cooperative communication skills among the parents and students.”
“I typically have one of my children stop by and interrupt. The kids are super cute and break things up—this is never really planned, but it works to my advantage by humanizing me.”
“Parents need to trust you. Share why you are inspired to travel and why you believe it’s important for student growth both as a student and as an individual.”
Whether you steal a few tried-and-true tips from above or get creative and go your own way, know that your virtual parent-teacher conference is going to be a huge success. Why? Because you know how important educational travel is for your students, and your genuine enthusiasm will help parents feel that same level of inspiration.