With the shift to remote work, companies may have temporarily let training considerations fall to the wayside since they can no longer host in-person brown bags or upskilling sessions.
But with the technology at hand, you can continue to invest in your workforce seamlessly and from a distance. A live remote training session is really just a video conference call with some add-ons — as long as you give it some thought beforehand to make it as wrinkle-free as possible.
At g2o, we often run training for clients on new platforms or software we develop for them. The current need for social distancing presents challenges to our typical classroom-style training sessions. We like to get hands-on, and that’s harder when everyone’s hands are elsewhere.
Tips for trouble-free remote training
We’ve found that with some modification, effective in-person training practices translate well into live remote training sessions, but that it's important to be mindful of the differences of presenting online vs. in-person. Here are tips we learned along the way to help you convert in-person training into an effective virtual session.
If you’re using conference software like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, enable your video feed so people can see your face. Spend time prior to the meeting setting up your workspace so you have good lighting. It’s best to have the light hitting your face and not coming from behind or you’ll be hidden in shadows.
Have a plan and communicate it upfront
Break down the training into learning goals, or a clear agenda for the session. Share goals at the start of the lesson and use them as a roadmap. In online training, using a roadmap to list and transition between topics helps people stay focused and provides a sense of progress.
Ensure participants can access the technology
We’ve all had issues using a new piece of technology before. It’s helpful to hold a quick session a day or two prior to training to ensure everyone can access the conference software and troubleshoot any other access issues:
• Make sure they have correct links to access the platform if web-based
• Make sure their passwords are up to date and they can log in
• Make sure they have the right permissions to use the platform or software and can successfully perform tasks needed for the training, such as creating a piece of content in a CMS
Use chat to collect questions
Lag and not being able to see other participants can lead to several people trying to speak at once. We found it helpful to have participants mute themselves unless needed, and post questions in a dedicated chat. Most video conferencing software will have a chat option as part of the call.
Build in time for questions
When training in-person, it’s not unusual to handle questions live and save time at the end for more in-depth questions. Along with using chat to collect questions, pausing for a moment after each learning goal to address questions helps ensure participants are all on the same page before moving to the next learning goal.
Minimize the need to switch windows or applications
Your participants are likely to need to switch between the conference application and the application they’re training in. Compile information that might normally be in handouts into the presentation so participants aren’t searching for the right document. Send documentation ahead of time so they can follow along.
If participants need to switch from viewing your video call to an application for practice, provide some extra time for them to make the switch. You can show the instructions on your screen in case they get stuck, and pause for questions.
Give longer sessions an intermission
If a training session is over an hour, we try to work in a 10-minute break about halfway through. Usually we try to make this coincide with a longer pause to address questions or time when participants are practicing something from the lesson.
Everything improves one step at a time. Try to gather feedback at the end of the session, or after the training is finished to see what went well and what can be improved. You may find that remote training becomes part of your toolbox permanently.