2. Communicate rules and expectations
Don't assume that everyone participating in your virtual training sessions is aware of the standard rules of etiquette and interaction. Some may be very new to this. That's why it's essential to begin every training with a bit of guidance.
Start by giving everyone a loose schedule. Let your trainees know how long each phase of the training will ask, when there will be breaks, and when you will be taking questions. It's also helpful to set some ground rules about cameras staying on or off and muting microphones.
3. Use different methods and media
Make training visually engaging and impactful by integrating a range of media and training methods. Multimedia approaches keep training sessions exciting and ensure everyone can connect to the material.
There are several types of media you can incorporate into your virtual training:
- Question and answer sessions
You're already embracing a technology-centered approach to training. Use it to make virtual training materials as enjoyable as possible.
4. Expect complications
If you assume everything will go smoothly, it likely won't. It's better to be proactive. Anticipate everything that could go wrong, then think of a backup plan.
Whether it's your presentation software glitching, internet outages, or audio quality issues, think of a plan b for every eventuality.
Give participants pre-training session activities.
Make this happen by designing a few preliminary activities to get things started, such as:
- Conduct a skill gap analysis
- Send out an assessment or test
- Receive preliminary feedback through polls
- Share relevant articles for more context
- Link external resources and videos
These activities will give you a great point of discussion to launch the training.
5. Break up training into smaller sessions
The more interactivity you build into virtual training, the better. Don't wait until the end of the session to invite discussion or take questions. Instead, break things up with activities that allow trainees to participate actively, try using:
Often, you can spur active discussion simply by asking the group an open-ended question. Remember, you may not be able to see signs of boredom or disengagement in virtual training. You need to take steps to keep everyone engaged throughout each training class.
7. Avoid long lectures
Some training professionals are very dynamic. They do exceptionally well in live training because they use the space to command attention and tools suited for in-person training. Because of this, they can deliver longer lectures while still maintaining attention.
Unfortunately, these trainers often struggle with virtual training because they no longer have that space or available tools. Their lectures that were once interesting and compelling become tedious.
That's because most virtual training best practices don't suggest this as an effective instructional delivery style. Instead, trainers should take advantage of tools meant for virtual learning and break lectures into smaller components.
8. Test drive each session
You may be tempted to do a brief dry run of a small portion of your virtual training to test out your material and the technology you are using. Your safest bet is to do a thorough test run prior to launching. Yes, that will take a considerable amount of time, but it could save you from some embarrassing mishaps.
It's even better if you can find a small group to act as "mock participants." This exercise will allow you to experience the most authentic dry run possible. Take the time to do this so that you can catch:
- Technical issues
- Training that runs long or short
- Poor transitions from one topic or activity to another
Use the test drive to get a better idea of the length of time it takes to deliver the training. Employees will appreciate knowing exactly how much time they need to allow for the session.
9. Follow-up afterwards
When you interact with trainees at different stages after virtual training ends, you will help them apply what they have learned in their jobs, answer questions that have come up, and know which elements of training worked best.
- Reach out to participants to gather feedback
- Offer additional support
- Get insights on future learning needs
You can also follow up with relevant information, links to articles, and other content. If you've stored these items in an online knowledge base, don't forget to send the links to that out to participants.
10. Tailor content to virtual learning
Even though it may be easier in many ways, there isn't a one-to-one relationship between in-person and virtual learning content.
If you need to convert any live or classroom training to a virtual format, take the time to restructure it effectively. No one wants to participate in training that doesn't fit the format.
Since the goal of training online employees is to create and deliver virtual training programs, ensure the content works for your remote employees.
11. Work with a co-facilitator
One of the most helpful virtual training tips for trainers is simply getting help. If you have a co-facilitator, you can divide and conquer tasks. For instance, one could deliver the live lecture components while the other takes on more administrative tasks.
These might include moderating the chat, responding to private messages, troubleshooting technical issues, or preparing future training materials.
Try to find a co-facilitator with some subject-matter expertise so you can bounce questions and ideas off of one another and expand each other's skills. These are the elements that make panel discussions so exciting and engaging.
As a bonus, we've also put together a list of traits that define a successful virtual trainer.
Characteristics of a great virtual trainer
Some universal skills make trainers excellent at their jobs, whether they deliver virtual or live training. Conversely, there are additional skills that trainers must have or gain to be successful when they serve up virtual training.
Here's some valuable skills and personality traits that make up a solid trainer for remote teams:
An engaging personality - A good trainer will use their social and presentation skills to keep participants interested. These skills translate well to virtual training, with a few adjustments. Since virtual training professionals often interact with trainees through writing, you can succeed by fostering these skills. Practice engaging others using live messaging and chat features.
Situational awareness- Do you notice most people look bored or distracted? Are they getting frustrated or struggling to master the concepts in front of them? As a virtual trainer, it's crucial to recognize these signals so you can pivot and reengage your audience. Situational awareness will humanize the training process and help keep everyone on track, whether it requires a minor adjustment or a total overhaul.
Conciseness - Conciseness is the ability to communicate ideas without taking too much time or adding unnecessary detail. Trainers who have this ability can keep sessions moving along, especially when employees have many questions.
Patience - With virtual training, there's a lot of room for error. Workers may experience connectivity issues or be unfamiliar with the communication technology involved. People who have the personality for this work will take these hiccups in stride without letting them affect their training. Losing your patience will not build trust with your trainees or help them learn.
Technical Savvy - You don't need to master every aspect of virtual learning software. However, you should have the capacity to learn new technologies and their uses. People who are open to technological change are often best able to adapt to virtual training or eLearning.