While virtual training sessions were already popular, they are receiving unprecedented attention in 2020, all thanks to the global emergency that has forced all sorts of establishments behind closed doors.
Fortunately, we had plenty of time to develop the tools required to deliver virtual training sessions. Unfortunately, nobody was prepared to find this method of instruction as the only possible way to deliver training.
As a result, many of us found ourselves unprepared to deal with virtual instruction. Thankfully, there was a lot of help available online. However, there are not many articles about how instructors can deliver impactful training from in front of a camera.
Delivering training sessions in a virtual environment poses an age old obstacle engaging learners.
However, there are unique challenges associated with online training, like:
- Not being able to see students’ faces. This means the instructors don’t have access to facial cues and students or learners have no supervision.
- The learners may have a variety of distractions in their environment. From texting and watching videos, to other distractions from their family members, a virtual instructor has to combat with many more distractions in a virtual environment than in a classroom.
Overcoming these challenges requires active efforts during the sessions and effective utilization of the tools at your disposal.
Here are a few best practices that can help you deliver effective and impactful virtual training sessions:
Provide A Blended Learning Experience
Most businesses that adopt virtual instructor led training (VILT) usually combine it with some sort of self-paced training component. This practice is called blended training.
Even if you are delivering an instructor-only training experience, you can (and should) still blend it with self-paced training material in the form of ‘additional reading’ and ‘reference material’.
This way, you can ensure that your learners are primed and ready to receive the information you plan to share during the training session. Similarly, by providing them with additional reading material post the session, you can fortify and reinforce the information shared during the training.
Lay Down Ground Rules
Just like you, many learners in your training session will be attending online training for the very first time and may not know their end of the best practices.
As an instructor, it is your job to set the tone and the expectation of the training session. This includes laying down some ground rules. These may include asking your learners to close the other tabs in their browsers and turn on airplane mode on their smartphones.
Similarly, you must also develop a plan for the whole training session and share the flow with your audience. It is also a smart idea to demarcate a specific window of time for Q&A sessions.
Master The Technology
Since you are delivering training on a digital platform, it is part of your job to be proficient with the technology being employed.
However, before you can do that, you must first find the right tools that suit your needs and style of training and presentation. The most important tool for the job is obviously a web conferencing software.
The great news is, most of the modern web conferencing software come loaded with tools and features designed for the purpose of delivering online training. From virtual whiteboards to screen sharing capabilities, a web conferencing tool does it all.
After you have chosen your web conferencing tool, it is important that you get acquainted with all the features it offers. This way, you can plan your online training sessions in a way that you can utilize these features to improve learner engagement and ultimately make more impact on them.
For instance, you can utilize the common chat room feature of the web conferencing software to create a temporary repository of the questions that may pop up in the students’ heads during the session. Then, at the end of the session, you can address each of these questions one by one.
This way, you can ensure that you miss no questions and the students can clear their doubts without having to interrupt the class.
It is also important for you to be proficient enough with the web conferencing tool so that you can help out the learners with minor issues that they may face while connecting with you. This can help you save precious time and make the technical aspect of the process of delivering training smoother.
Without being physically present in a classroom, without having access to facial cues, it is important for trainers and instructors to make conscious efforts to engage learners.
You can do this by following up your explanations with specifically addressed questions. For instance, after explaining a concept, you can ask one of your learners “Aaron, what did you think about this?”. Make sure you don’t ask a yes/no question so that the learner or student is actually forced to think about the answer.
Doing this will compel your learners to stay on their toes during the session.
Another way to catch learners’ attention and make your training sessions interesting is to make use of visual content. By using a combination of text based content, videos, audio content, and infographics, along with explanations given in the form of screencasts and virtual whiteboard notes, you can create a virtual learning experience that is not only interesting, but also caters to the different learning styles of your learners.
Delivering virtual training sessions may or may not be more difficult than delivering traditional training sessions, but it sure is different. The unique challenges associated with virtual training demand innovative solutions and initiatives from the instructors.