112: Celebrate your students when they complete online programs

Without a double, at some point in time your program is going to conclude and we want to celebrate the progress that our members have made during the time we’ve been working with them!

I am so passionate about the full experience for our online program participants that I want to take our time today to discuss some of my favorite ways to wrap up group programs and when students complete their courses.

Before we get there, I want to assure you that the online ship hasn’t sailed and left you behind — Nope! you can do this and your exact right set of students or members or participants or whatever you want to call them are going to be there when you’re able to serve them online. Many of your existing or past clients are probably waiting for you to create what they need; they really aren’t looking for other instructors.

So, rest assured, what you’re inspired to create by working on expanding online is the right thing for you to be doing now.

There… that’s out of the way.

Remember the best resource to get started online is the Expand Online Getting Started Guide available at https://techofbusiness.com/onlineproduct/

So, today, we’re talking about getting to the end of your program and how to make sure that you properly graduate and celebrate the participation of your members.

You know those last ten minutes of the final class in a series — where we’re all saying “OK, nice work, good luck!” and then everyone packs up and leaves.

Well, that’s pretty much what we want to avoid in the online space — mostly.

Sure, we want to give our students permission to pack up their things and go on to the next adventure or experience, but we also want to let them know we are proud of their accomplishments and that we would love to continue to support them on their journey. In the online space it’s so easy for people to get distracted by the next product or program that catches their eye, hello shiny object syndrome, so creating a graduation and clear end of program carries so much value.

We can do this in such a beautiful and impactful way.

So, first, let’s talk about online group programs where you meet weekly with your participants on Zoom and there is material for them to work on each week. The graduation date is clear — it’s either your last zoom session or within a week of that call.

I love having the last call or a bonus call for graduation helping my members on the path that is best for them! This call is a celebration of the progress that everyone has made throughout the program as well as introducing members to next steps and how they can keep making progress either alone or with you.

When groups are 20 or fewer participants, I like to spend a bit of time talking about each participant, what their goals were when they joined the program and what their greatest accomplishment during the time together. Make it fun and joyous — maybe even bring in conversation so that it’s not all “Jane wanted to do this and she did” and “Joe wanted to do that and he did too.”

It helps to continue to show that you are invested in their progress, their successes and their futures. It’s such an honor to be trusted with helping someone advance their passion, so of course we want to highlight how honored we are to have been able to work with them these past 6 or 8 or 12 weeks.

We do not want the graduation call to feel like a big huge pitch or promotion of our services. Our participants need to know what’s next but this is about celebrating them and creating a clear end to the program.

On this call, we’re going to cover logistics like when the Facebook group is going to close, how access to the program material may shift and when final feedback on assignments will be provided. This is also the time to ask your participants to complete your online program feedback form. Getting real time feedback, especially when you’re going to relaunch your program again, is absolutely invaluable. You might even want to take a few minutes during your graduation celebration for people to go fill it out while still on the call.

And testimonials — we want testimonials from our students — you can record them right there on the call. If you want video testimonials, you can just change your settings so that you see “speaker view” instead of “gallery view” and click the zoom record button. I’m happy to jump on your zoom call and help you figure this out the first time if you want me to — that’s something I do for all my clients, I will do anything to help you make the tech work as easy as possible for you!

OK, so like I’ve said, our group graduation is really a celebration.

It’s about reaffirming their decision from weeks or months ago to spend the time and show up each week and work with you.

Most likely, you’re going to have people who failed to show up consistently or make the progress they wanted to make. Go back to episode 107 to refresh yourself on how to reach out and help these people come back into the fold. You’ll want to do your best effort to re-engage them long before the graduation call. And regardless of their success, if they do show up on the final call, make sure that they are also appreciated and acknowledged. Let’s always try to put a light and relaxed spin on it — no need to call out that they didn’t hit their goals. There is a reason they showed up for this call and that’s important.

Now if you have an open/close course or a cohort going through the course together, you can do similar things with respect to a graduation ceremony.

It takes a lot for people to make their way all the way through a course, especially if it’s one that is dripped (or paced out) over several months. So consider adding a few other special details for graduation like:

  1. Issue certificates
  2. Send a personal message or email to the student when you receive notification that they have finished
  3. Acknowledge their official completion inside your Facebook group or forum

With self-paced, independent study courses we often have fewer touch points with our students, so it’s potentially even more valuable to do this additional connection at the conclusion. It helps your students know that you care about them and have been monitoring their progress along the way.

Here are a few ideas on opportunities for people to continue to learn and grow from you…

  • If the program came with limited access to the material, then we can offer extended access for  nominal fee
  • We can invite them to the next level program
  • We can offer a one time or on-going one-on-one experience
  • We can invite graduates to a higher level mastermind
  • We can allow graduates to participate in the next round of the program at a reduced fee
  • We can offer group moderation or mentorship opportunities to them so that they rise up as leaders within your community

In some cases, it might make sense to send a personalized or recommended road map to your participants. This way you can tailor the exact recommendation to them. There are people we would love to bring into a mastermind and others that we would rather see join the next level group program instead. It depends largely on what you’re offering, what you’re willing to offer and staying in tune with each individual person’s goals.

Celebrating completion and successes always feels good. It’s part of human nature to want the kudos and accolades! I hope this episode has inspired you to map out the end of your program with as much heart and thought as you do with the content and the delivery.

I wish you nothing but success with all your online products and courses and programs. I’m here to help you make this dream a reality. If you haven’t already, be sure to go to the shownotes and download the Expand Online Getting Started Guide and reach out on Instagram any time!


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