When delivering workshops, switching to online doesn’t have to mean learning an entirely new skill. The same rules apply for great remote training sessions as in-person ones.
Even so, there a few considerations unique to this medium. Zoom fatigue is real and at this point in the game, we need to go the extra mile for teams to keep attendees engaged and interested. Here are a few tips to help you get your remote training strategy off on the right foot.
1. Choose the right format for your training material.
Who is your remote training session for? Size matters! Small groups are better for:
● Training that may be more complex
● Individual teaching and a lot of Q&A
● More personal training, i.e.: coaching, mentoring
● Highly charged subjects or issues being covered. These may need more input from the group and smaller size can lead to an easier discussion platform, particularly with more sensitive subjects
I like to keep those more intensive training sessions to a maximum of 10 to 12 people.
Larger groups are suitable for:
● More lighthearted training
● Culture-based training (even onboarding, where the more is definitely the merrier)
● Where breakout groups will be used
● Where engagement is needed, but not for complex issues or direction (i.e.: how to do something in software, etc.)
● Town Halls or team meetings
2. Lay the groundwork for engagement.
People have varying levels of experience with remote training, so etiquette expectations should be addressed right at the start, just as in any other training. Our meeting housekeeping used to mean, “Let us know if it gets too cold,” or “Restrooms are down the hall.”
In our remote world, however, these gentle reminders could include muting microphones when not speaking and not taking calls, reading emails and sending texts during the session. Let attendees know ahead of time that they’re expected to use video throughout; this increases engagement and helps employees feel more connected.
Make sure your meeting invite is correct and encourage attendees to arrive early and make sure their set-up is working. Having a tech-savvy colleague on standby to support anyone in need of support can be a big help, so you can focus on the group as a whole.
Set the tone early. Employees are going to take your lead so give them the body language, tone of voice, and attitude you want to get back! Be authentic.
3. Focus on your content delivery.
Isn’t it weird when you join a call and the first five to ten minutes are just a sea of silent, unsmiling faces? It can seem awkward when, after those first few minutes, the host finally gives a huge smile and kicks things off. Better yet, smile from the beginning—even during set up. Be there for your attendees at the start of the session, as they join. Welcome them, even chat briefly so everyone gets the sense of how engaging the training session will be. All of these steps help them feel more comfortable and motivates them to participate in the session fully.
When presenting, a good on-screen presence is important. Ensure you are neither too close to nor too far from the screen and that there is nothing in the background to distract the audience’s attention. Try not to slouch also, as that can convey low energy to the group.
Lastly, don’t forget to tailor your approach to the subject. If it’s something fun, be fun. If it’s something heavy, have regular check-ins to see how participants are doing. With every session, energy is vital for keeping people engaged—and as the trainer, you bring the energy.
What kind of energy are you bringing?
4. Make sure you’re in tune with remote training participants.
Understand how your audience learns, and adapt the coursework and presentation to them. Pay close attention throughout the session—do people look bored or confused? It’s important that you understand the impact you’re having and can switch things up as needed.
Built-in breaks and question times are essential for keeping participants fresh and engaged. Sitting in front of a computer can be mentally draining. Encourage participants to rest and stretch their legs at regular intervals. Consider a group stretch.
Delivering training and workshops online isn’t revolutionary new ground. As the pandemic wears on, we just need to make sure we bring our very best effort and spirit to each online meeting and presentation. Employees are getting bored and worn out with online communications, so make it fun. Keep it interactive.
Remember, when they’re laughing they’re learning!