Tips for Virtual Training

The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic has made remote work for most companies the new norm. As a result, employees have had to quickly adapt to a home-office work life with the same expectations as in the office. For many companies, this means a shift in how they are conducting their training programs. 

Even before COVD-19, the expense of airfare, car rentals, hotels, meals and other costs that are related to in-person training, could make many training programs cost prohibitive. Virtual training, now more than ever, allows you to get information to a remote workforce. If done well, you can transfer much needed skills and knowledge to your employees, wherever they are. 

We understand that the shift from in-person training to virtual training may not translate exactly, but the changing business world is causing some companies to need a quick solution to a virtual world. Here are some great tips to get started with virtual training in your organization:

Pre-Training (Getting Ready)

  • Assign a producer to help run the technology. The producer can deal with technical difficulties, help run activities, screen the chat log, and call out questions from the audience.
  • Prior to the virtual instructor-led training (VILT) leave time for the facilitator to practice running through the course and learn how to use the virtual training platform. 
  • Test access to the course. Consider various devices, browsers, and pop-up settings.
  • Enlist a small group to pilot the course, so you can work through any issues with planned activities. If you are using a producer, this will help to make sure you are both on the same page. 
  • Record the pilot, then review it for things that you may not have noticed while live and make adjustments.
  • If you are moving an instructor-led course to virtual, remember that activities that worked in the classroom may not work in the virtual environment. Review the course and make adjustments. 
  • Things to keep in mind when designing the course:
    • Know your audience and adjust the training to what they need and what you need them to do after the training. 
    • Include engaging activities to keep their attention.
    • Focus on ‘need to know’ information vs. ‘nice to know.’ 
    • Show relevant images and minimal text on the screen. You can recap important messages in a follow-up communication.
    • Frequently change what is showing on the screen.
    • Include activities that require audience participation. 
      • Polls
      • Breakout groups
      • White board (can be used by participants as well as facilitators)
      • Quizzes
    • Depending on the length of the course, include planned breaks. Knowing that a scheduled break is coming up, reduces the likelihood of participants straying during the session.
  • There are many virtual training platforms that allow for robust interactivity. Check out:
    • Zoom
    • Adobe Connect
    • Webex 
  • What outcomes are you looking for? 
    • Consider how you are going to measure participants understanding.
    • How might you give them a safe environment to practice or demonstrate the new knowledge or skill? 
    • What additional support or resources might they need after the training?
  • Are your learners all in the same time zone? Try to schedule the training during normal business hours for the time zones you are reaching.
  • Include pertinent information in the invitation, such as the meeting link, access instructions, and an agenda. Include information about what to do if the participant is having difficulties logging in to the session, such as a contact name and number. If appropriate, attach any pre-learning materials.
  • Send a meeting reminder prior to the event.

During the Training

  • Remember that this may be a new way of learning for your audience. They may need a little extra help figuring out how to use the tools on their end. You may want to provide a brief tutorial prior to the VILT. The tutorial can be a short eLearning tutorial, a job aid that is emailed prior to the VILT, or just a few minutes at the beginning of each course to walk the learners through the tools.
  • Ask participants to log in with plenty of time before the session to test access and audio. 
  • It is harder for a facilitator to gauge the audience in a virtual environment than in the classroom, but there are ways to improve audience engagement and your ability to gauge it.  
    • Unless you are trying to put your learners to sleep, don’t make the course all lecture. 
    • Ask participants to turn on their web cam.  
  • Record the virtual training. 

Post-Training (Follow-up)

  • Use the recorded session. 
    • Send a copy to attendees along with any other follow up materials, slide decks, and chat log.
    • It is inevitable that someone will miss the live event. The recording won’t be as beneficial as the live training, but it could serve as a temporary solution. 
    • The recording can also be used to review for adjustments if the course will be delivered virtually again. 
  • After the training, collect feedback about the course and the tool.