How to Facilitate Fantastic Virtual Training

Keeping participants engaged and interested throughout a virtual training session can be a challenge. If you suddenly find yourself delivering virtual training because of the Covid-19 restrictions, you may be wondering how on earth you can manage it.

Wonder no more! In this blog, we will share several insider tips from our training team that will help you wow your audience and ensure your next virtual training session is a huge success.

Facilitate rather than teach

Effective trainers know that in training the delegates should be the focus of the session. Nobody is there to watch the trainer show off their knowledge and best (/worst!) jokes.

To put it simply, “speak less and ask more.”

Ask questions and challenge your delegates to help them create new connections, consolidate their learning and find those coveted “AHA” moments. And whatever you do, avoid boring them to death with PowerPoint.

Use the chat window

To keep delegates engaged during virtual training you must adapt your communication skills. To achieve this with a large group, the best way to maximise two-way communication is by actively using the chat window.

Person Typing on a Laptop

Try asking delegates to answer a simple “yes” or “no” to statements you make,  or get them to list their top 3 ideas about a topic.

An essential feature at the start of any successful training is to clarify with delegates what challenges they face related to the topic. The chatbox is a perfect way to record these challenges, because at the end of the training you can go back as a group and reflect on whether those challenges have been addressed.

Use participants’ names

By simply using delegates’ names when interacting with them or asking questions, it can not only help you to build an emotional connection but also keeps their interest and attention. It also means they can’t fall asleep!

Woman in Black Blazer Sitting by the Table While Using Macbook

Test and check understanding

Use quizzes/polls or ask the group questions to double-check understanding and to ensure the key learning points really stick. It’s ok if participants feel a bit of pressure at times, as that will push them outside their comfort zone and help them to learn. Don’t be afraid to put them on the spot!

Use the power of your voice

There is nothing worse than listening to a trainer with a monotonous or flat tone of voice. Be sure to vary the tone, speed and volume of your voice throughout the session. Try to emphasise keywords, and use the power of pauses before and after key points to help your audience to process the most important messages.

Angry woman yelling into loudspeaker on blue background

Conclusion

Virtual training might seem like a whole new world, but in reality, it requires many of the same skills as face-to-face training. A good rule of thumb is to ask the delegates to engage and interact approximately every 3-5 minutes. Follow this rule, and our techniques above, and your virtual training delegates will be blown away!

If you want to practise your virtual training skills and get real feedback and coaching on your delivery skills, take a look at our Virtual Train the Trainer course, or our Virtual Training Delivery Skills for more experienced facilitators.

Four Common Mistakes to Avoid During Virtual Meetings

After months of remote working, we are probably all familiar with (and tired of!) the many mistakes people make during virtual meetings. From sudden interruptions from children or pets, to awkward clothing mishaps, it feels like we’ve seen it all.

But how do we avoid making these embarrassing blunders ourselves?!

Ensure you don’t become the next viral meme and follow our top tips to avoid four common mistakes in your online meetings.

Avoid wearing pyjamas

In weekly meetings with your team, it’s usually completely acceptable to wear casual clothes. However, for important situations like speaking to a client, delivering training or meetings with your senior management team, try to dress to impress! Remember this is a professional setting, so what you wear will impact the impression you make. Consider – is it more appropriate to wear smart dress? What unspoken message do you send to your colleagues if you don’t bother to dress properly?

Beware of distracting backgrounds

Zoom and the updated version of MS Teams have introduced some great custom backgrounds. This is a fantastic alternative to sharing the mess in your room or your unmade bed. In both programs can easily replace your real background with either a static image such as the Golden Gate Bridge or a slowly looping video background of perhaps a beautiful beach scene.

Of course, nothing is stopping you from choosing a smart office background. Maybe you can fool your colleagues with the size of your impressive new ‘home office!’

Photography of Bedroom

Don’t interrupt others

Have you ever been interrupted during a virtual meeting by one of your colleagues? It can be funny, but frustrating if it keeps happening and you’re not able to share your opinion.

Avoid this by looking carefully at other people while they speak during the meeting and look for visual clues that there is a gap where you can interrupt. Alternatively, try raising your hand briefly to catch everyone’s attention. Sometimes this can come across less rude than just butting in! The key point is to be respectful to others and if you do interrupt, be sure to apologise.

Try not to talk too much

Someone that hogs the limelight and talks too much can be a real bore! When taking part in virtual meetings be mindful of how much you are speaking and check you are giving others a fair chance to contribute.

If you are chairing the meeting and find not everyone is participating, one simple technique is to use peoples’ names. For example, “John what are your thoughts on this issue?” This is also an effective way to keep everyone engaged and make sure nobody is daydreaming!

Conclusion

Mistakes during virtual meetings can be funny, but they can also affect your confidence, mood and credibility. Whether you’re participating or leading virtual meetings, be sure to avoid the mistakes mentioned or you might live to regret it, like poor ‘BBC Dad!’

If you still need help to work more effectively in remote teams you may be interested in our Remote Working training programme, including training in Facilitating Successful Remote Meetings, Managing Teams Remotely and Effective Communication Skills.