In today’s global climate, organisations have estate and colleagues in hugely diverse locations. In fact, according to FYI, 42% of those who work remotely aim to do so more frequently in the next 5 years, and that more than half of on-site workers want to start working remotely.
While this is fantastic for both diversification and flexibility the continuance of in-person employee training can pose a significant challenge when employees must travel long distances in order to attend training, conferences and other events.
This is where virtual training is fast becoming the world’s go-to option for training with relative ease on a global scale. With the expenses associated with extensive travel for such events removed and the ability to include all, regardless of location, learning virtual is quickly becoming the new norm.
Of course, designing training for the virtual environment is very different to doing it for a face-to-face classroom session and it is key to be aware of this. Ensuring that a virtual design process has been implemented can mean the difference between success and failure of a training program.
Effective virtual instructor-led training (VILT) results in participants engaging, interacting and obtaining learning transfer more successfully.
6 strategies that can be implemented in order to effectively plan and deliver virtual training sessions
Step 1: Invest in Reliable Virtual Technology
One of the most important factors to consider when adopting virtual training as a new way of taking training forwards is researching and committing to a stable and suitable virtual training platform.
There are many feature rich, online platforms available for a range of budgets. Many of the services allow users to facilitate virtual training sessions seamlessly. You can read more in our blog - 14 of the best virtual meeting platforms - a list of the top options.
There are a few key factors however, to bear in mind when deciding on the chosen platform -
- Number of participants?
- Are there multiple ways to access the workshop?
- Can you share files securely?
- What tool functionality the platform offers?
- Is the platform reputable?
- Is it being regularly updated?
We recommend trialling out several platforms before committing to one. By practice and testing you get a more accurate experience of how a platform works and if it is suitable to the required needs. We recommend taking the time to find the right software, set-up and user experience that is perfect for your needs.
Step 2: Use Skilled Facilitators
Using the right facilitator can be what makes or breaks a training session’s success. A skilled facilitator should have the ability to hold their participants’ attention and focus, encourage engagement and build connections.
This skill set is integral and not something that every good F2F facilitator ‘gets’ when making the transfer from a traditional classroom experience to a virtual one.
It is therefore important that the chosen facilitator has not only the right amount of knowledge and experience in the training subject area, but also knows how to engage with a virtual audience in order to achieve learning transfer.
If you need to upskill your facilitators to deliver virtually effectively, invest in our Virtual Train the Trainer Programme. You can find out more here.
Step 3: Choose the Right Environment
It is important to remember that not everyone is comfortable in a virtual learning environment. Not all of us are tech savvy and some really struggle with change, particularly tech, when they feel it has been thrust upon them.
This can foster feelings of resistance and negativity towards a VILT session before it has even begun.
To negate this, it is key to create a safe and comfortable environment for participants to thrive in.
Keep things simple and integrate the best circumstances for the technology, for example, using audio and visual experiences. Keep external noises to a minimum, ensure the facilitator is well lit and that the visuals are clear and focused.
For more tips on how to run a virtual workshop, check out our blog - How to run a virtual workshop – The Rookie’s Handbook.
In this virtual age, technical difficulties are almost impossible to entirely eliminate. However, careful planning for all eventualities can assist greatly in reducing the likelihood of such problems arising during your virtual training session and any impact it may have on a participants' experience.
Having a back-up device to connect to, ensuring there is an alternative way of broadcasting if the internet fails, or simply having a way to let participants know there has been a technical problem can all help towards mitigating any negative repercussions of suffering a technical failure. Here are some Tips For Over-Coming Tech Issues in Virtual Workshops.
Step 5: Ensure Content is Engaging and Insightful
One of the biggest concerns from new virtual facilitators is that participants will not be engaged and spend the training time catching up on emails or browsing Facebook. Ensuring that content is designed and delivered in an engaging and interactive way is the key to preventing this potential mental checkout.
Using a mixture of learning techniques which create active learner participation is the key to a successful training experience.
Step 6: Ask Participants to Provide Feedback
There are a myriad of ways in which to ask participants to provide feedback on a session, whether it is an internal poll conducted by the software being used, or an external link provided once the session has concluded.
Alternatively, using the software built into the platform, like in Microsoft Teams for example, can help facilitators get a fast and ‘in the moment’ spread of feedback, tapping into the experience the participants have had while it is fresh in their minds.
VILT requires a strong facilitator, carefully designing and a lot of practice in order to make it a successful, positive experience that produces learning transfer. By applying the right amount of focus to virtual training, a versatile and evolving learning environment can be created, which will consistently and effectively improve employee skills and job performance.
Investing the time to think through the training goals that need to be achieved and how best they can be incorporated into a successful virtual session is key.
If done properly, VILT can create and cultivate a learning culture that becomes integral to any successful business.