8 Ways To Maximise A Virtual Training Experience

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In recent years, training people virtually has become increasingly popular. While this has partly been born of necessity, many companies across the board have embraced the benefits of remote working with open arms.

Virtual training provides a convenient way to upskill employees without the need for expensive travel or accommodation, making it a cost-effective approach for businesses.

Of course, maximising the virtual training experience requires effort and preparation. So how do you get the most out of your virtual training sessions?

Here we’ll look at how to approach your training sessions, step by step.

Key points:

  • It’s important to be prepared. Make sure you have clear learning goals, and engaging training materials with real-world applications. To help deliver information, use varied media that commands attention.
  • Use tip-top tech. Choose a training platform that’s easy to use but has the functionality you need – and make sure your internet connection’s faultless!
  • There are numerous things you can do to keep your trainees engaged. Interactive tasks will help it feel like it’s a two-way street, and using breakout rooms will give all trainees an opportunity to participate. Also, give trainees regular breaks to help keep them fresh and focused.

Why do we need virtual training?

Adapting to remote working during the pandemic accelerated the use of online meeting platforms, and demonstrated to many organisations that work could be done efficiently despite team members being scattered.

It has, however, brought its own challenges. Some types of work activity are simply more difficult when you’re not in the same room as the others involved.

Giving training is an area which can potentially be impacted by being undertaken remotely. So how can you fully engage participants in virtual training sessions? Here we’ll look at the steps to take to make remote training sessions not only acceptable, but edifying and worthwhile – including practical tips and pointers.

#1. Prepare engaging training materials

As with all things, good preparation is key. When putting together your training sessions, it’s well worth being creative with your choice of materials. Think carefully about what media is likely to be eye-catching and engaging, while also hitting learning goals.

Keep it varied too, as this will help keep trainees’ attention. Aim for a good mix of images, videos, and interactive activities. Try also to use examples and scenarios that people are likely to encounter in real life, which will be easily applicable to their work environment.

You might also consider incorporating media which delivers information quickly while making it digestible. This could include short-form videos, snippets from podcasts, infographics or even informative games.

#2. Ace your virtual training environment

It may seem obvious, but when delivering the training, ensure you have a stable internet connection. While it’s expected that people working remotely will have connectivity issues from time to time, the trainer at least should have a reliable connection.

It’s a good idea to check the quality of your broadband, camera and microphone with a friend or colleague before the session begins. You want the trainees to see and hear you as clearly as possible, so make sure you’re well lit, and use a headset with a mic for the best audio.

Ensure you’re fully familiar with the platform you’ll be using as well. Make time beforehand to get to know the software’s features, shortcuts and top tips for its use. Plus it’s worth finding out any bugbears that users may have with it, as you could find yourself in the role of impromptu user support.

What training platform should I use?

The type of platform to use for your training depends on the level of training you’re providing. For day or half-day sessions, for instance, you may opt for a webinar platform. A widely used platform like Zoom may be sufficient for your needs. But it’s worth shopping around for the best platform for your needs. Check out TechRadar’s best webinar software here.

If you’re offering more in-depth training, with modules and coursework for instance, then you may wish to upgrade to a full online learning platform. You can read up on TechRadar’s best online learning platforms here.

#3. Set clear goals, expectations and rules

Clear learning objectives are essential for delivering any training, whether in-person or virtual. As a trainer, it’s important to develop clear and specific goals for each training session.

These objectives should be communicated to your trainees in advance so that they understand what they’ll learn, and what’s expected of them during the training. If you’ve informed your trainees in advance via email, say, then you can use the introduction to the session as the time to refresh them.

It’s also important to set ground rules to give trainees the best chance of achieving these goals. For example, to minimise distraction, it’s a good idea to get everyone to put their devices to one side, and shut any programs and tabs which aren’t relevant to the training.

#4. Make it interactive

Trainees are much less likely to absorb the material if it’s a one-way street. For this reason, participation is crucial to the success of virtual training. Avoid monologuing for too long, and try to get trainees to interact at least once every 10 minutes.

As a trainer, it’s best to encourage trainees to participate actively by asking questions, giving feedback, and participating in group discussions and activities. Get them to share their own experiences, as this will help them to buy into the session, while also providing useful real-world context.

Your training platform is likely to have interactive tools such as polls and quizzes, so put them to good use. This should also help keep trainees engaged and encourage their participation.

Top tip: Encourage camera use

While there are often legitimate reasons for participants to have their cameras off, such as bandwidth issues, no one likes talking to an empty screen. Encourage trainees to keep their cameras on if possible, as seeing faces will better engage everyone.

#5. Use breakout rooms for group activities

Breakout rooms allow trainees to work in small groups, which helps to stimulate idea formation and problem solving. They also help get everyone involved. Many people feel intimidated talking to big groups, so dividing the class into smaller bite-size teams increases the likelihood of everybody participating. Four or five is a good number, but set 10 as an absolute maximum.

Whether you set all groups the same task or different tasks is up to you. But give them a set amount of time to complete the task, then bring the trainees back to the main session for a group discussion or feedback.

#6. Give the trainees regular breaks

Virtual training sessions can be draining for both the trainer and trainees. This is why it’s a good idea to provide regular breaks. According to productivity app DeskTime, the ideal amount of time to spend focusing is 52 minutes, followed by a 17-minute break. Of course, this is likely to vary depending on the person and the task – but the principle of having a chunk of time spent productively followed by a break is beyond question.

So it’s well worth giving trainees the opportunity to stretch their legs, make a cup of tea, and refresh their minds. This also gives them the chance to catch up on any pressing work tasks, if needs be.

#7. Training doesn’t stop at the end of the session

For training to be effective, and lessons to have an impact in the workplace, it’s best that virtual training doesn’t end with the training session. As such, you should provide post-training resources and support to help trainees apply what they’ve learned in their work environment.

This could include providing access to additional training materials, making yourself available for coaching or mentoring, or providing a forum for trainees to ask questions and seek guidance. For instance, you could set up a WhatsApp or Facebook group for ongoing support. You could also encourage participants to share times in future when they’ve found the training useful.

#8. Evaluate the training, and improve accordingly

Evaluation of the training is essential to ensure improvement. As such, you should evaluate the effectiveness of each of your training sessions. Encouraging trainees to fill in surveys and assessments will provide you with valuable feedback, so you can see what worked well, and what needs some additional polish.

If it’s your first time delivering online training, you should expect a few hiccups. No one begins as an expert. But practice, evaluation and reflection will help you to deliver slick training sessions in no time, which will be of enormous benefit to both you and your trainees.

If you’re looking to upskill yourself, find out about TSW’s virtual courses with expert trainers here .

Picture of Matthew Channell
Matthew Channell
Matthew is TSW Training’s Commercial Director. He writes about performance focussed learning, leadership, and management approaches that have real-world, sustainable impact.
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