Best Practices for Virtual Training

Even post-pandemic, it’s safe to say that virtual training isn’t going to go away. In a January 2021 poll, 44% of workers indicated that they want to continue working remotely because it suits them, and 17% want to keep working remotely due to lingering concerns over COVID-19. That’s over 50% of workers who prefer not to return to the office and business as-used-to-be-usual.  Businesses have also discovered the benefits of a virtual work and learning environment.

To get the most out of virtual, you have to use technologies that were built for the specific task.  So, for virtual training, using a meeting solution will not provide the value needed to ensure engagement and learning is the focus.  Along with choosing the right technology for the job, is an understanding of “best practices” for virtual learning. 

Leverage Strong Technology Solutions

Finding the right tools to present your material and engage your learners is imperative. The right technology is critical to create and ensure the outcomes you want and to reach the learning objectives you have identified.   Don’t skimp in this area! Not all platforms or tools are created equal, and you will be in a world of pain if and when your sub-par systems break down in the middle of your virtual sales training seminar and you don’t have the support or the know-how to get them running again.

Look for good solutions in the following areas:

  • Customizable and easy to use break-out rooms for small group discussions, activities and projects
  • A live whiteboard for real-time collaboration between team members.  The key is being able to take a copy of the whiteboard and/or having the material on the whiteboard be maintained for the next training session so you can pick up where you left off
  • Ability for each participant to independently review information as displayed/released by the instructor
  • Individual participation control over information and how it’s presented to them
  • In-class assessments, polls, surveys and evaluations to ensure knowledge transfer, real-time feedback that goes immediately to the instructor for review
  • Learning, behavior, engagement and performance analytics to determine the level of engagement, participation and knowledge transfer during any given session

Build In Engagement Activities

One of the potential drawbacks of virtual training is the person-to-person contact is missing.  Participants might feel anonymous, like their presence isn’t noted or necessary. Best practice requires companies to find ways to capture interest and engage participation. Following are some effective engagement activities:

  • Virtual role playing
  • Brainstorming
  • Small group projects through customizable breakout rooms
  • Gamification (leader boards, quizzes, mock game shows, etc.)
  • Video and information review with the ability to complete forms/documents during training
  • Virtual software labs that allow multiple screen sharing so hands on software training is driven by “doing”

Train Your Facilitators

VILT (virtual, instructor-led training) is far more effective than webinars or web conferences, primarily because this format creates the best atmosphere for participation and engagement.   However, expecting trainers to put together powerful and engaging training and not teach them the various activity and project tools available is either a recipe for disaster or an epic failure from a learning perspective.   Lecture-based training isn’t enough for today’s workforce and if the trainer hasn’t had training on the virtual learning technology, the ability to have everyone active and learning is severely hindered.  Corporate training facilitators should be expert at training strategies, content & presentation organization and the technology needed to conduct an engaging and project-based learning session.    They are producing an active event that continually changes based on the participants’ roles.  They are the coach to the learning and knowledge transfer for everyone. 

Ask for Feedback & Gather Data

Training analytics are the key to finding out what’s working, what isn’t, and how you can improve your virtual training methods.  Ask your participants what they felt about the training.  How could it be improved, what was the best part of the training, etc.  Using the right technology lets you get real-time information from them before they leave the session.  Whether you want to have them evaluate the training or complete a survey with suggestions for other types of training, being able to get this information before you lose the team back to their normal daily processes is key to improvement and ongoing training. 

Being able to compare subjective evaluations to objective learning, behavior and performance analytics takes the data collected to new heights to improve training.