Go on Virtual Trainer, Train Me. I Challenge You!

| By Terry Brake

The Engagement Challenge

It’s 10 a.m. and Martin sits at his computer in a day dream.  His manager had asked him to attend a virtual training class on Succeeding in Turbulent Times.  It’s kind of interesting, but he’s got a lot to do.  He needs to finish his monthly update report, create a presentation for the New Product Development Task Force, and answer a bunch of emails about a computer hack aimed at the company’s online catalogue; it has already caused embarrassment for the firm.  Living in turbulent times, indeed!

Martin considers himself to be a good multitasker, and so decides to divide his brain into ‘virtual training’ and ‘emails’.  

He might also have to make a few calls before he can answer the emails properly.  Good job he’s working at home today so he can focus.  Is that the doorbell?

It might not be possible to engage Martin fully in the training, but as virtual trainers we need to realize that every virtual participant has other things on their mind.  Unfortunately, In the virtual classroom we don’t have easy access to signals that someone is distracted or disengaged.  

That means we must make an extra effort to grab people’s attention and keep it!

Virtual Training Interactions by Design

As in any training, the quality of virtual learning is based on the quality of interactions.  Let me give you some quick tips about three types of interactions in virtual training.  

Interaction

Likely to Engage

Facilitator - Participant

·         Enthusiastic voice

·         Brisk momentum; no gaps

·         Clear session logic and reminders about the flow

·         Regularly asking open and closed questions

·         Calling on participants by name (with little or no warning)

·         Providing clear, well-thought-out responses to participant questions

Participant - Content

·         Content chunking, no prolonged lectures

·         Explaining key concepts, models in pre-session materials

·         Informative, impactful visuals

Participant - Platform

·         Instructor fluency with the technology

·         Fast trouble-shooting

·         Upfront instructions/examples of how to use platform tools, e.g. chat boxes, polls, whiteboards, breakout rooms

 

Another type of interaction we must design into virtual training is participant – participant.  This will typically take place in breakout rooms, and participants should be given very clear assignments.  The facilitator should also visit those rooms while they are in use to see if participants need any extra guidance.

Virtual training technologies are incredibly versatile.  With good design and execution there will be very few participants we can’t engage in deep learning – despite the turbulence!!!

Author: Terry Brake

Terry has designed, developed, and delivered 100s of training programs for Fortune 1000 companies in many areas: global teamwork, global leadership, global cultural diversity, and general management skills. Many of these programs were delivered in traditional classrooms, but increasingly they are in virtual classrooms. To find out more click here.

 

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