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Lessons Learned From Facilitating Virtual Training Sessions

At Apex, we’ve always strived to make our training sessions as engaging and interactive as possible. Of course, a highly interactive training session comes more naturally when you’re making eye contact in a room filled with people. Now that Zoom DISC sessions and virtual coaching calls have become our new normal, we’ve had to revise our procedures to ensure our services are as high-quality and impactful as always. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way:

1. Revise your materials

Although we’ve always revised our materials to tailor them to our client’s needs, this year we’ve implemented another layer of revision: is this Zoom friendly? We’ve found there were many non-verbals embedded into our materials that we took for granted, whether it be asking for a show of hands or reading the room for facial cues. For example, there may have been a certain slide where we would rely on nods or looks of confusion to assess whether the trainees were understanding a concept. Instead, we now ask the trainees to write questions in the chat box or give a virtual thumbs up if they’re ready to move on.

2. Actively put yourself in the right headspace

Walking from our couch to our desk just doesn’t have the same effect as driving onsite and setting up a room. To be the type of trainer that people are going to pay attention to, it’s important for us to get ourselves into the right headspace before the session. Preparation is the key to being relaxed and able to fully focus on facilitating effectively. Log on early to make sure the technology is all set up and ready to go. When possible review the list of attendees and familiarize yourself with their names, where they are from, etc. It’s also critical to know the materials in detail and be prepared for glitches.

3. Set the stage for success

At the beginning of the session clearly outline the expectations and structure of the training. For example, we have found requesting participants to turn on their cameras helps improve interaction. Also, randomly calling on people throughout the session increases participation and focus. Let them know that they may be called on at any time and that if they don’t know the answer it’s perfectly OK for them to pass. The goal is not to make anyone feel uncomfortable, it is to make the session as interactive as possible.

4. Provide detailed instructions

Not only can we no longer rely on non-verbal cues in virtual training sessions, but the trainees can no longer rely on each other’s non-verbals as well. When we would administer an activity in person, the trainees could look around to see what other people were doing or ask each other questions. To minimize ambiguity and ensure a smoother process for everyone, it’s important to be clear about what, when, & how you’ll be doing things. For example, if we have an interactive activity with breakout rooms planned, we’ll now create a slide that explains what breakout rooms are, when we’ll be launching the rooms, and how to complete the activity or ask for help if they need it.

5. Get creative with training activities

We may have lost some tools such as using paper and pencil, but we’ve gained other instruments such as breakout rooms, chat, screenshare, and more. Rather than mourn the loss of our traditional methods, we’ve learned to adapt and embrace that this technology can also be an effective way to engage trainees. For instance, the option to chat rather than speak up can help more timid employees participate.

In summary, by implementing the above techniques it is possible to make virtual training sessions interactive and engaging. It is definitely worth the extra time and energy it takes to elevate the quality and impact of these sessions. If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your virtual sessions please contact us here.

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