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10 Virtual Training Tips To Run Effective Sessions

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Virtual Training

For many people, virtual corporate training is still quite new. The idea of attending a training session online can be daunting for some. Others may embrace it wholeheartedly. The main thing is to do everything in your power to run sessions as effective as possible. Here are 10 tips for facilitating great virtual training for employees.

Set goals and expectations

One of the most important things to remember when running virtual training sessions is to set clear expectations. This can be done at two separate touchpoints. You can outline goals and expectations in an email prior to the session. Then, it never hurts to go over a few housekeeping rules at the start of the session.

Outlining the goals is also a great way to promote engagement early in the sessions. You can ask people how experienced they think they are in the subject matter, perhaps with a rating out of 10. This can help you set goals in real-time, to increase people’s knowledge levels. You’ll also be able to loop back to the goals at the end of the session and ask people to identify whether they feel more knowledgeable.

Expectations, or housekeeping, don’t need to be extensive but remember you may have participants who aren’t familiar with virtual training for employees. So, it helps to run through a few key features of the software, such as the chat function and how the session is going to run.

Prepare engaging content

Training is so much more worthwhile when everybody is engaged and participating. However, this is one of the biggest challenges a trainer faces – keeping participants engaged. One tip is to try and break training programs up into smaller sessions. But the main skill is in creating content that keeps people engaged.

Most corporate virtual training involves the use of slides to convey information, and how you design these slides is crucial. Slides with dot points, images and graphs are a lot more engaging than a page full of text. When you use too much text, you’ll find that people will read every word of it and this takes their attention away from what you as the presenter are saying.

Ideally, the slides you use should be eye-catching, informative and only highlight the key points. If you’re a skilled presenter, you should have the ability to talk in a conversational tone about the key points you highlight on a slide. Remember, there is nothing less engaging than someone reading a bunch of information.

Get people involved early

While on the topic of engagement, try to get people involved early. Virtual training sessions are really no different from in-person training. You’ll have a mix of people who are happy getting involved in discussions and others who aren’t as confident. Ideally, you need to try and get those less confident people engaged and participating.

Ice breakers are a good way to get people into the training, and even feel more relaxed. Try to be a little creative. Going around the room and asking people to talk about themselves is uncomfortable for everyone, so avoid that unless it has some benefit to the training. Do something different like playing a trivia game or asking people to discuss something they’re passionate about.

Incorporate video

When virtual training first came to prominence, the use of video wasn’t necessarily encouraged. However, as technology has advanced, it’s become more commonplace to connect via video. Think of all those Zoom meetings that people have attended over the last few years.

As such, using video when participating in virtual corporate training shouldn’t be too much of an imposition for them. You can even send include in your pre-training email instructions that people should be camera-ready.

People won’t be expected to be visible too often, as you’ll be using your own presenter mode and slides for most of the training. But during discussions, it’s more engaging for everybody when there’s a face to the words.

Use presenter mode

We just mentioned presenter mode, and this is an important tool for facilitators. Remember we discussed the importance of keeping people engaged? Using presenter mode is a great way to do that, especially at the beginning of a session.

It’s a lot more engaging for people when they can see the presenter talking to them in the full-screen video, rather than just audio. Naturally, you won’t be in full-screen all of the time because you’ll want slides and other content to be the main focus. But regularly slipping into presenter mode lets people know you’re still there and they should be paying attention.

Give people a chance to respond to questions

Due to the digital nature of virtual training, you will quite often need to keep everybody on mute during the main parts of the session. This is to ensure precise audio and a better experience for everybody. However, training software allows you to open up discussions by use of a ‘raise hand’ function when people want to speak.

Whether you use this function or simply ask people to respond to questions in the chat section, allow plenty of time. It’s not like sitting in a room where people can speak up instantly. But waiting for responses to questions is important for the flow of the training session.

If you ask a question, such as ‘Who can tell me about…’, and you move on to the answer because nobody responds, you’re giving participants permission to not really engage. By waiting for a response, you set the standard that you want contributions from participants.

Use engagement tools regularly

We talked about the importance of getting people engaged early on. But this is equally important throughout the whole session. The reality is, that people can lose interest in a topic pretty quickly and it’s hard to hold their attention. That’s why you need to encourage active participation at any opportunity.

It doesn’t need to be anything major. Simply asking people to click the ‘raise hand’ button if they’ve experienced something before. Even include a quick poll, or ask people to share a thought in the chat. All of these tools can be used to encourage regular participation, and therefore, better engagement.

Be conversational in your delivery

We did touch on this briefly before, but it’s important to keep your tone conversational as a facilitator. The absolute worst thing you can do during training is to read from a reference source. It’s obvious to everybody you’re reading, that it’s not engaging, and it can even affect your credibility if participants think you don’t really know the subject matter.

The common complaint about facilitators reading from a text is, ‘Why couldn’t they have just emailed me the text?’ So, the way you deliver information is very important, and not just for engagement in that particular session. If people regularly have bad experiences with training, it creates a negative culture towards training and you’re fighting an uphill battle for engagement before you even start.

Digital breakouts

In traditional training, it’s common to ask people to break into groups for a discussion or to complete a certain task. The great news is, that you can do this during virtual training sessions too. Most software allows people to split into groups and have individual discussions. Set an allocated amount of time, and even leave a placeholder screen with a countdown timer.

Asking people to report back on their group discussions is another way to encourage engagement, and it keeps people thinking about the content you’re teaching.

Seek feedback on sessions

Finally, getting feedback on your sessions is a major part of running effective training. You’re not going to get it right every time. Not every single participant is going to be engaged or interested. That’s the reality of the job. However, if you can seek feedback from participants about what they enjoyed and what parts of the training could be done better, it helps you provide better training in the future.

Heather Breese
Heather Breese is a qualified writer who fell in love with creativity and became a specialist creator and writer, focused on readers and market need.

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