Conducting virtual training sessions

A virtual training session

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the virtual training market and in many companies, training has taken a back seat. For some people, virtual training has never been a realistic option. They either don’t have a computer at home, only absorb information if presented face-to-face, or they have limited internet access. The pandemic has forced the public to shift their day-to-day practice for example juggling childcare, work, and other commitments such as home schooling, leaving absolutely no time for training.

For others, online training has become more accessible due to the move to working from home. There has been a surge in the purchase of computers, desks, printers as people are settling in for a long haul. Most organizations have started carrying out webinar trainings from the education sector to financial services.
Some people are making the best of a bad situation, using unforeseen slow periods to sign up for training courses that, were Covid-19 not a thing, they would not have had time for.

Overall, trainers, especially those with a good online presence, have seen an increase in the demand for their courses.

This is good news; there are a lot of advantages to conducting training online. The market is not limited by location, so training organizations can reach a wider audience of learners. These learners are often more willing to pay for online courses, which are generally cheaper than face-to-face ones. At the same time, training organizations save money because they don’t have to book a venue, pay transport costs for trainers or provide amenities like food and drink.

It’s not surprising that many trainers are seizing the opportunity. So, here are some tips for conducting successful virtual training courses:

Setting up: Environment and equipment
  • If possible, set up your home office in a room away from others to avoid disruptions.
  • Consider closing your windows to minimize noise from outside.
  • De-clutter your background. People will be able to see the room you are in, so remove anything that may be distracting or disruptive. Alternatively, consider blurring your background (possible with most video-conferencing software).
  • Plug in your laptop or use a computer that is connected to the mains so that you don’t lose power halfway through training.
  • If possible, use an Ethernet cable to connect to the internet. Otherwise, ensure you have a strong Wi-Fi connection.
Before the course
  • Early on in the process, explain how the training will work. In particular, let your participants know which application (Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, etc.) they will need in order to connect with you.
  • Distribute the training materials and links to relevant websites and video conferencing forums at least one week in advance of the first training session. Email is usually the best method.
  • Access the training before it is due to start so you have a chance to check for and resolve issues.
  • Consider how you will replace common classroom tools, such as whiteboards, which do not have a virtual equivalent. How will you share and emphasize information?
  • Find out whether any learners on the upcoming course have disabilities or language barriers that may inhibit their ability to participate. Work with them to find a solution before the course begins.
On the course
  • If the session(s) are to be recorded, tell participants before you start recording and explain where they will be able to access the file.
  • Provide course outlay that shows how the training will progress and when breaks will occur.
  • Deliberately check in with participants to gauge their levels of understanding and engagement, as you will not be able to read their body language and facial expressions very well.
  • Set and enforce ground rules, such as:
    • Everyone should default to being on mute.
    • Questions should be held until certain points.
These tips should help you to hold effective training sessions virtually. If we are lucky, the positive experiences we create will accelerate the trend towards virtual training, bringing the learning and development industry firmly into the digital age.
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Comments

11 Aug 2020 Raul Ochoa
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Great read! I don't have the ability to see teammates via video while I provide online training. However, I do check in on them periodically to ensure they participate and are active engaged.
12 Aug 2020 Rubina Akram
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Excellent article updating on the range of factors to be considered and good overview of tips.
13 Aug 2020 Shrinidhi Kumar
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Helpful tips to start virtual trainings. In virtual traiinings it is challenging to engage participants in training. Trainers need to launch polls and surveys, asks questions by allowing raising hand option. These tips will enhance participation and outcome of training.
18 Aug 2020 Ivo Vermeulen MA Prince2
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Great article, not in the least because it applies to sales as much as it does to training. The challenge with anything "remote" is engagement.
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