Your virtual training can be better… really!

We’re the first to say that nothing can replace being in-person.  If there was, there wouldn’t be any need to go to the beach for vacation!  The same can be said for training, communication, collaboration and conferences.  However, with such a clear cost value proposition to Directors and Vice Presidents, virtual everything is virtually a reality.

Most training managers and departments tend to think that live, instructor lead Internet based training is a distant second-class citizen to in-person training.  That only if you really really really had to, would you EVER consider doing training virtually. It’s understandable since most teams that try it have a bad experience.

But, we’ve found that it doesn’t have to be bad.  Others have found that too. And, interestingly, you can do things with Virtual training and collaboration that you couldn’t do in-person in terms of course design and reinforcement. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Virtual live training can be all it’s supposed to be.  It can be engaging, fun, personal and effective.  People can stay with their families, stay in the field, hit their quotas, and even exceed them.  Here are five simple foundational things that will help:

  1. Make it feel in-person and personal: Use all your engaging techniques that you leverage in the class, but with the online platform you use. Set your virtual class up like a physical class.  Play games, do intros, do breakouts, flip charts, perks, etc.
  2. Technology should be invisible.  Use a producer, prep your learners and your facilitator. Make them practice together before they learn.  The technology can be made invisible if you work at it. And the payoff is huge if you do.
  3. Use 20-10-5 for presentations. Don’t overhaul your materials, just shuffle them.  A four hour didactic presentation online is a recipe for failure.  Do 20 min presentations with 10 minutes of teach-back and 5 of Q&A.   Change it up regularly and make sure people are engaged.  You have to work harder at engagement, you just do.
  4. Engage or go away.  You have to get people interacting more in a virtual setting that in-person. Make them raise their hand, or answer a poll.  Call on them to comment – but give them the time to actually comment – it’s harder than it seems – dead space online feels ten times longer than in-person.  Use that to your advantage.
  5. Use multi-way video. There is nothing more engaging than knowing you’re being watched.  When possible, have as many participants’ cameras on at any one time.

Oh, there is one more…keep your class size under 25. Anything bigger and you might as well lecture.


Posted on April 6, 2011 in Updates

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