How to Engage Modern Learners in a Virtual Training Session
There is no doubt that the demand for Virtual Training is on the rise. With an increasingly global workforce and more employees working from remote locations, organisations are starting to see the benefit of having virtual, coach-led sessions. Taking training virtual makes them not only more cost and time effective, but also encourages more two-way collaboration.
According to a Citrix report, companies can save between $9,550 to $15,870 (£7,289 to £12,113) by moving just 1 face-to-face (F2F) workshop to a virtual one.
Technological advances are making virtual training sessions increasingly more feasible and allows more focus on creating learning transfer through engagement and interaction with colleagues.
Today’s Learners; Keen to learn, but distracted
There are endless distractions for modern learners today, which can encourage them to tune out of a learning session. Therefore, it is essential to understand what educational, professional and cultural background your learners have. Additionally, as much as designing the right kind of session is important, you might need to ask yourself a few key questions;
- What is the purpose of this virtual workshop?
- How will this training help my participants?
- What are their likely learning styles?
Answering these questions will help to provide a strong strategy for developing a highly engaging session. If the content is personalised and relevant, your learners will be more fully invested in the training at hand.
If the above table is true, how can we hope to achieve the sort of engagement which appeals to the always-on-the-phone, always-on-the-go kind of learners?
Well, here are a few tips and tricks that we have found can help in creating meaningful and engaging virtual training sessions.
Encourage interaction during the workshop
Encouraging interaction as soon as the session begins can go a long way. By introducing the participants to each other, sharing information on chat and pairing the learners together, you can encourage inclusivity and contribution, right from the beginning.
Breakout sessions and group activities can also help them to get to know each other, feel involved and share insights and experiences to deepen the learning outcomes.
Stay relevant with real examples and case studies
Modern learners are smart and well-informed, as they are harvesting new information constantly. So, by using real-world examples and case studies, you can heighten their engagement.
This is an excellent way to get them to internalise the training as it prompts them to solve problems, but it can also enable them to get analytical too.
Case studies allow participants to build on their own experiences and skill-set and give them the opportunities to focus on figuring out how they would have solved a particular problem in real life.
Provide Opportunities to Collaborate
Collaboration opportunities during a virtual workshop is another way to keep modern learners engaged and invested. Techniques like group discussions, roleplaying or partner interviews encourage collaboration and involvement.
Think of the differences between a webinar-based approach; a one way download of information, compared to what can be achieved in a virtual, interactive session.
Have a quality participant’s checklist
All virtual workshops need a participant’s checklist, listing the things they need to organise or do, in order to have interruption and distraction free, successful learning.
Make sure you have provided them with a clear checklist and logging in details once they have agreed to attend the workshop.
An example checklist is:-
- Find a quiet place for the virtual session where there is no external sound
- Ensure your devices are on “do not disturb” mode
- Ensure you have a strong internet connection throughout the session
- Test your connection in advance before logging in
- Disable any other notifications for the duration of the session
- Use a hands-free headset so you can type notes
Include powerful and engaging visuals
If you’re just using a PowerPoint slide deck as a delivery medium it can get very mundane.
To make virtual training more engaging, you can add videos, audio or even get a graphic designer to illustrate real-time graphics. While you do that, it is important to make sure the selected visuals are connected to the theme of the workshop.
However, be sure to pay attention to the overall design and formatting of the workshop to ensure it isn’t going to overwhelm the user and distract from the learning. Using visuals, videos and multimedia formats help to plug into the varied learning styles of the audience.
Use visual and voice chat functions
Messaging has become an integral part of our lives and while it might sound like a simple tool it is one of the most powerful engagement mechanisms that can be applied to a virtual training environment as well.
Building voice and video chat capabilities into virtual workshops not only allows for the coach and participants to build strong connections, but also can help when challenges arise.
Using the chat feature allows for engagement through tool like sharing files, sharing screens and collaborative whiteboards. It can also promote accountability for the learners too as they feel like they are being seen and heard, in real time, even if they are logging in from remote locations. Additionally, visuals and voice are powerful mediums that elicit strong emotional responses and have been proven to increase engagement and retention of knowledge too.
Remove any distractions
It is impossible to control all the distractions for your participants, especially if they are logging in from several different locations.
However, it is possible to overcome any possible distractions from your own. Prevent others from disturbing you and your virtual workshop, keep pets out of the room and turn off any other devices other than those necessary for your workshop. Ensure that the distractions you can control are in hand, so the potential for disturbance is minimised.
Virtual workshops can be powerful tools to engage learners when done with energy and application. The Digital Impact Survery 2019 reports that 42% of businesses are investing in this digital medium for training. And rightly so, for the benefits are huge.
An interactive virtual training workshop is cost-effective, environmentally friendly, great for work-life balance and it can speed up the rate of learning transfer.
All these benefits should guide you to build virtual training workshops that are informative, interactive, engaging and valuable for all your learners.