In these days, I attended a series of virtual courses (that were first planned on-site, and moved online due to the current crisis), and I learned a simple trick to keep the attention of the classroom high.
One of the teachers printed the list of the attendees (it’s easier in case of virtual classrooms where you already know the participants’ names), in a table with spaces for all the planned exercises or interactions.
She tracked down all the people that wanted to tell their experiences, she called on people using their first names, instead of continuously asking “who wants to share this and that?”, in a way that everybody felt present in the classroom and considered. She left space to add comments or take notes on specific exercises so that she could listen actively, take notes. Then she referred to the content that was just shared directly and straightforwardly, with references to previously shared content from other people, perhaps in previous exercises.
I felt the preparation and professionalism of the teacher, and I’m incorporating this trick in future classrooms.
Of course, it’s not easy when you don’t have the participants list in advance, but perhaps, if it’s a long course, a colleague can help to create the list for you, while you’re introducing the workshop.