Virtual training is hardly a new concept, but in light of a new norm, it’s gaining popularity. I took an online Communications course 15 years ago while earning my degree. Back then, it was pretty simple: each week, I was instructed to read a chapter or two out of the textbook and answer a few discussion questions online. Then, I would have to pass a quiz every other week and a final exam at the end of the term. The professor was available via email and the discussion board for questions, but other than that, there was not much interactivity—it was what we call self-guided learning. As the world adjusts to new ways of working, we are seeing technology adapt to meet the workforce’s evolving demands, providing us with enhanced features that make virtual training more engaging than ever.
In a previous post, we shared all the reasons we love virtual training (you can read up on its benefits here). Now, we want to share our tips for making virtual training an engaging learning experience for your audience.
- Choose the right platform.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the right virtual training solution. With our clients’ biggest considerations being security, functionality, and price, the three finalists continue to be Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. These also happen to be platforms that are the most feature-rich. For example, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet recently rolled out noise cancellation technology that learns your voice and drowns out background noise, such as your neighbor’s lawnmower or that pesky dog that won’t stop barking. Zoom, on the other hand, offers nonverbal feedback buttons (including “slow down” or “raise hand”), a polling feature, and breakout sessions (more details on this below). These unique features are what differentiate Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet from other virtual platforms.
- Make video a requirement.
Notify your participants in advance that they can expect to turn their cameras on. By setting expectations ahead of time, the audience will have the opportunity to make sure they are presentable and that their background is not distracting. During discussions, make sure to utilize a grid or gallery view so that everyone is visible. When using this view, your audience is the most engaged, because it is evident to all participants when someone is multitasking.
- Mix it up.
Our audiences appreciate when we utilize different methods of instruction in our virtual training. For example, our instructors avoid spending too much time sharing a slide deck without breaking away for a discussion or polling their participants. In these instances, Zoom’s breakout session functionality proves to be a game-changer: facilitators can divide the audience into breakout groups, provide instructions, check in with each group to answer questions, and bring everyone back to share their findings, all with a few simple clicks.
- Consider your audience size.
For clients who want to develop a highly interactive and discussion-based training, we recommend they cap their audience size at 15, or sometimes even 10 participants. By limiting class size, it allows each participant to have the opportunity to contribute while keeping the training on track. With the money you save on travel expenses and venue costs, offering more frequent sessions to smaller groups won’t break your budget.
- Consider the length of your training.
There is a reason that kids get recess in school: breaks are necessary to maintain focus. Adult attention spans are not much better than those of children. For that reason, we have developed a few recommendations to maximize audience engagement for our clients who are converting a day-long instructor-led training into a virtual training class. The first is to break it up over two to three shorter sessions. The second is to include a five- to ten-minute break every hour. Pro tip: communicate the break schedule in advance so that people will feel less tempted to check emails or take a bathroom break during the training. The third is to consider self-guided training for a portion of the material. The self-guided portion can take place either before the initial session or between two sessions; this way, the instructor can build on that material when the group comes together. Think of it as a prerequisite.
Whether you have a training class that you want to convert for the virtual space or are interested in creating new training to stay connected to your audience, Kinetic can help. Contact us for details.