Adjusting to the cultural shift of a global pandemic is no easy task, especially if you’re in a learning and development role.
From accommodating learners that experience power outages, to troubleshooting your new hires’ hardware challenges, there are moments in the virtual classroom that can drive even the most tenured corporate trainer to bang their head against the keyboard!
If you’re anything like me, navigating the virtual training world has come with many benefits (commute time anyone?), yet, has presented challenges that inspire us to uncover new tactics that make our jobs easier, and more importantly, better serve our learners.
Whether you’re a corporate trainer, an HR specialist that’s rolling out a new policy, or a sales manager leading a group role-play session, some of the seven tips below are bound to make your job virtually easier.
Working from home presents many variables that can inhibit or delay training in comparison to a traditional brick-and-mortar setting. How do you overcome these variables? Simple- intentional planning!
Spend some more time thinking about potential roadblocks and customize your schedule accordingly. Does your lesson typically take 30 minutes? If so, then budget 60 minutes.
I’m a big fan of taking 10 to 15 minutes the night before and planning the next day’s schedule hour by hour, including when my trainees will take lunches and breaks. In addition, I always share the daily agenda with my learners each morning, so expectations are clearly defined.
As much as I may love being the center of attention at times, my learners don’t need to hear my voice for eight hours straight. It can be easy for learners to become distracted and lose focus while working from home.
The way you can mitigate that loss of focus is to incorporate more independent activities into your curriculum. Instead of explaining every detail of a product, have your trainees go on a 30-minute scavenger hunt and then present their findings.
Whenever one conducts any training session, the facilitator should have a sense of responsibility to have their webcam on. Body language builds trust and more effectively communicates lessons to learners.
If possible, expectations to be on camera should be communicated to learners. This will help drive engagement, empower learners to build bonds with other participants, and establish an aura of accountability.
To stand out even further, stand up! While on webcam, a lot of us tend to sit at our desks for the entire duration of a training session. Feel free to stand up on occasion, while on camera, and move your body, especially when you’re talking about a topic you’re passionate about!
A picture is worth a thousand words. Even if you don’t have a formal PowerPoint to present or a video to play, sharing your screen to display text or images can make a big difference for trainees.
Sharing my screen, opening up a Word document, and typing out bullet points in real-time, have worked wonders in many of my training sessions.
Better yet, have learners share their screens as much as possible. Spread the engagement one step further by giving as many participants, as possible, a chance to share their screen and demonstrate knowledge and skills.
Most communication platforms, whether you’re using WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or an alternate, have an easy-to-access chat feature. Chat features provide a great way to ask questions and share ideas, especially for larger groups.
In addition, the chat feature can be utilized to significantly enhance engagement and control the environment. I’ll frequently encourage my learners to type specific letters, words, or numbers in the chat.
For example, I may say something along the lines of, “Class, if you agree with this statement type ‘agree’ in the chat. If you disagree, type ‘disagree’ in the chat.” I may then proceed to call on different learners to elaborate on their answers.
This not only gets every single learner involved, but it uniquely engages them and may prevent participants from speaking over one another.
If you’ve been in any type of leadership role, there’s a good chance you’ve utilized games to break up the monotony of the day or review knowledge that your team gained.
Feel free to tap into your creative side and uncover new methods to gamify your lessons. Kahoot! is a wonderful learning platform to review material or introduce concepts. You’re able to customize questions and craft quiz-like games that’ll have your learners competing against each other and jumping out of their seats in excitement.
Personally, I found that putting together quizzes in Kahoot! is also a great way for me, as a corporate trainer, to solidify my own knowledge. There are both free and paid versions of Kahoot!, so budget is a potential factor to consider.
Also, there are many other ways to gamify your curriculum. Put trivia questions on the screen for your trainees to answer when they return from breaks. Give out award points for pop quiz questions. Play classic games like Scattegories, Pictionary, or Two Truths and a Lie.
This final tip may come as a bit of a surprise, but it’s a vital piece to anyone’s lesson plan. As ironic as it may sound, virtual training can be even more exhausting than in-person training.
Many of us may be accustomed to walking around a classroom, physically writing on a whiteboard, or feeding off the energy of a live audience. The e-learning environment, however, strips us of those energizers. Sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen for 8+ hours per day can be rather draining. One article from Harvard Business Review actually linked webcam usage to feelings of fatigue.
Give yourself time to step away from your computer and breathe. This is especially crucial if you find yourself getting frustrated, stressed, or get caught up in an unexpected challenge.
Don’t be afraid to pause your training session for 5 to 10 minutes to gather your thoughts and gain composure. Your learners probably won’t complain about getting an extra 5-10 minutes of break time either.
At the end of the day, whether you’re training teams in person or virtually, the fundamentals of excellent facilitation will always remain the same. It is, however, our responsibility to enhance our strategies to adapt to the times.
Implementing just 1 or 2 of the above tips is a great start in the right direction. What do you plan to implement today?