Live virtual trainings have been around for years, but they were usually regarded as the cheap or long-distance alternative to an in-class course. I’m not going to discuss which one is better, because these days, virtual trainings are the norm. Since we have to deliver them, we might as well take the time to do them right.
Here we go:
- Arrive early. Yes! Even if it’s a virtual training, “arrive early” so that you can go through this list and solve any problems you encounter. This will also give you time to send out any materials you might have forgotten to distribute the day before.
- Check the setting – make sure it’s a quiet room, test the webcam and check the background. Regarding the background, I don’t encourage you to use a room with old / heavy or dark furniture. It states the opposite of open, light and joyful. I know sometimes we work with what we have, but if you’re doing this on a daily basis, then invest in a background screen.
- Check the equipment. Test on and with the equipment you will use: that laptop, those headphones. As the host and speaker, you must turn on your camera. Run a test with the same setup you plan to use during the session (with external displays, lights, accessories).
- Check the software. Compare the number of attendees and the scheduled duration to your license. Some tools are limited to 40 minutes sessions or to 10-20 participants. Even more, if your account is new, test it first using the local client (app installed on your laptop).
- Prepare and check your materials. Make sure you didn’t left any placeholders in your presentations or personal notes. Embedded videos or files often fail, so make sure you have them at hand.
- Participants’ equipment. Invite the attendees to join 5 minutes before the scheduled start, to check their equipment and make sure they can hear you and see you. It’s good to have a troubleshooting guide at hand, but I can tell you from experience that trying to solve other people’s technical problems via verbal instructions on the spot, is a waste of time for everybody else It’s annoying and may result in 10 people shouting instructions. Every person is responsible for testing their own setup.
- Items needed. If the participants are supposed to have some materials in front of them, start with this and give them the time they need to pick those items (assuming you require just a piece of paper and a pen or opening something you’ve sent by email).
- Social contract or the “rules of the game”. You need this even for virtual training. The social contract is that part when you agree with everyone in the virtual room that you will follow some rules like: be back on time if you take a break, mute your microphone when not speaking, raise hand if you want to say something, ask questions on chat, etc.
- Energy levels – Be aware of them even in a virtual setting. If it’s a 1h training, don’t schedule it right before lunch – that’s a bad time for any meeting. People are slower first thing in the morning and after lunch, for simple biological reasons, so you need to raise the energy levels around these hours. If it’s a full day training, after lunch people can’t keep focus anymore for a full hour so you need to switch to 45 minutes chunks.
- Hands-on practice. That’s the key to any successful training. If you do it, you remember it and people will also feel they’ve actually learned something. Having it virtual is not a show stopper.
- Know your stuff. If you’re a trainer you should master the subject, feel comfortable explaining it and answering questions about it. When you are confident in your knowledge, you also discover that not knowing all the answers is ok and it’s perfectly normal. You learn to say: “I don’t have the answer now, let me check that and come back to you on that question” or simply ask the audience if they know it.
Now go out there and impress everyone!