During this time of social distancing and self-isolation, the ability to offer virtual training is more important than ever. Delegates can get the classroom experience without having to leave home—all they need is a solid internet connection, a webcam and a headset.
But for many trainers, delivering virtual courses is new territory, and it requires a slightly different approach to standard classroom training. Course Conductor, an organisation that evaluates, rates and accredits training vendors, recently published a report entitled 60 Top Tips To Help New Virtual Trainers, and they asked our expert trainers to contribute.
With virtual training, a big challenge is retaining the personal connection tutors and delegates get from a classroom setting. Dennis Sheehan advises you to take time at the beginning to get to know the audience, before diving in:
“Don’t be all of a rush to get the actual training started. In the ‘introduction’ section at the beginning of the training event get to understand as much as you can about the audience on a one-to-one basis, it is worth the time and effort here in order to establish a rapport with each delegate.
This will support the creation of the harmonious environment much needed in a virtual training event.”
Following on from Dennis’s tip above, Mike Saville recommends going one step further, and inviting delegates to improvise a personal call-sign, to help bridge the personal gap that can come with virtual training’s physical distance:
“In the virtual environment we may be deprived of visual cues, and we may also be deliberately rationing voice contributions. In absence of these cues, we need new tools to support participation from delegates making different behavioural choices.
I suggest that delegates improvise a personal call-sign. When else can you be addressed as Maverick for the day!? It’s harmless and it’s fun but the origin of this approach was enabling members of a unit to present a distinctive voice in a situation where colleagues may not be physically present. It supports engagement and builds confidence.”
In virtual classes, some presentation slides can play a slightly different role. Andy West recommends using them as prompts, especially during those times when delegates are doing individual or group exercises:
“With classroom materials, we often just have a slide indicator ‘Exercise’, and the detail is in the delegate workbook. This is still true for virtual delegates who will have the workbook, but put the detail of the exercise on a slide, so you can prompt the virtual group.
Leave the side up during the exercise time as a reminder.
And if you have sample answers, add those to the slide. Once you’ve heard from your delegates with their input, you can share ‘one we created earlier’. This works especially well if there is a right answer.”
You can read all 60 of Course Conductor’s tips here.
Course Conductor has awarded ILX a ‘Trusted Trainer’ digital badge for our virtual training courses. Just click the dropdown box on that page labelled ‘Select a Course’ and you can see our full range of accredited virtual classroom courses.