And ‘Boom!’ just like that we were thrown into a world of home working, online meetings, virtual conferences and screen based training… and although we may not have chosen this way of working, we’re gradually finding our way.
So, consider this – you’re faced with around 50 trainees, all eager to learn in real time from the comfort of their home office. You also have a handful of different trainers – also working from home – ready to share their knowledge and expertise. How do you make sure, despite the virtual environment, that the learning experience is relevant, useful and engaging? Just recently we’ve been doing exactly this and have some hints and tips we hope you may find useful…
- Firstly, to create engagement you need to prepare, prepare and prepare again. Unlike a face to face setting, engagement won’t just ‘happen’ in the room. Instead you’ll need to think about how to generate engagement using the training content, interactive tools and a healthy dose of creativity – so you’ll need to plan for this.
- Don’t expect to simply take the slides you’ve used for face-to-face training and deliver them online. Trainees will be more reliant on the specific content; they may need more or less detail, superior images or embedded videos, as well as interactive activities and games. So, review your tried and tested slides through an online ‘lens’ well before the training session is due to happen.
- Consider your own delivery style – on screen you may need to work that bit harder to convey enthusiasm and interest in your specialism. You might want to consider slightly exaggerating your usual way of explaining a topic; and remember to move and smile! This will all help build interest and engagement in the subject matter.
- Activities like online quizzes (Kahoot is one that works well), videos, ‘podcast’ style interviews and scenarios for discussion all provide different formats for learning which helps maintain interest.
- For larger training cohorts, breakout rooms can be effectively used to split trainees into smaller groups to foster relationship building, more focused discussion and inject variety into the learning experience.
- Encourage interaction between the trainees and the trainers – most online meeting platforms have a chat facility which provides a great way to gather questions whilst presenting. If there are two trainers – share the load – have one present whilst the other monitors and responds to the questions.
- Invite other ways of trainees communicating their views – without it disrupting the overall session. For example, using participants ‘status’ facility is akin to a quick ‘show of hands.’ Don’t be afraid to ask people for their opinion like this!
- Strongly encourage or even mandate people to keep their video on unless they have a valid reason not to. There’s nothing like a lack of visibility to reduce engagement.
- Consider using ‘backchannel’ communications on a different platform like WhatsApp – it allows the trainers to talk to each other to rectify any issues or change the presentation plan to suit the mood or address feedback in real time.
- Finally – ask for immediate feedback using a polling facility – most of the online meeting platforms have them. It’s an excellent way of quickly gathering high level feedback on the training session.
So, what are your hints and tips? Do you have any you’d like to share? Additional input is always welcome to make sure we keep learning too!
Face to face training may have had to stop for now, but thankfully good learning experiences don’t have to…