Online Training Strategies
Whether you are teaching somebody how to fill out a form, delegating tasks to a team member or just explaining something to your colleagues, online training can have a crucial impact on daily communication. Since part of the communication we have with our remote colleagues is during training, if you master the online training sessions, your team will have a better perception of you, and you will have less need to repeat your instructions. Here are some practical tips to help you improve the impact of your online training sessions.

1) Know your audience

How many times have you been in a training course and at the end, somebody asks something that, to you, seems obvious? You suddenly realize that the person doesn’t have a clue about what has been taught and you just disconnect (metaphorically, of course).

How can you know your audience better?

Before you start preparing for training, do a fast survey to find out how much your audience already knows about the subject. Try to make a maximum of 4-5 questions that can be answered in less than 2 minutes.

Based on those questions, if you realize that their knowledge levels are completely different and you won’t have time to explain everything, organize two different online training courses. It will save everybody a lot of time.

If you are doing training sessions for new employees or new team members:

  • Do not just expect them to already know information that might be basic to you.
  • Avoid using acronyms.
  • Go step by step and constantly give context. Every time you take a new step, repeat where you are coming from and what the goal is.

2) Don’t be boring

If you are speaking for longer than 5 minutes, somebody in your team has probably begun to daydream or divert his/her attention to something else. Try to be more interactive and less boring.

How can you be engaging?

  • Most of the online training courses have an average of less than 4 participants, so start with a short activity where people can present themselves and wake up. Since there is a good chance that they already know each other, instead of asking them to introduce themselves in the ordinary, “I’ve been in the company for 3 years and have 2 kids, blah, blah, blah,” have them only say their name, favorite fruit, and last holiday destination.
  • Change interfaces and formats:
    • You probably want to use screen sharing to share a presentation from your desktop, but that should not be the only window or application you share with your particiants.
    • If you are showing people how to use a tool that is accessible to you, prepare a real case and use it – don’t just talk about how to use it in a presentation. It’s important to visually show them the benefits of the tool.
    • Play a short clip to give some rhythm to your training; it will wake up your audience.
    • Use a whiteboard during your training.
    • Prepare small exercises for your audience and do them throughout your presentation. They can be either simple questions or exercises that involve the group taking control of your computer and completing part of the process themselves. The more hands-on your training is, the clearer it will be.

Online Trainees

3) Have everybody use video

During conference calls, we typically don’t give 100% of our attention; 65% admit to doing other work tasks, 63% have sent emails, 55% have eaten or prepared food, and 47% have gone to the restroom during a conference call according to a study in the Harvard Business Review. The last thing you want is people not listening to you. If the above engagement tactics are not working, one way to ensure that everybody is at least looking at their screen and that you have their attention, is to ask everybody to turn on their video.

How can you make everybody use video?

When sending the training invitation, explain that you will be using video, and that it is compulsory. This will give people a chance to look decent for the meeting and have no technical excuses.

4) Test that they have understood

The goal of your training is to share your knowledge and to teach people new processes. The best way to do this is to switch leadership roles and allow your group to demonstrate what they have learned during the online training.

How can you test their learnings?

  • Ask specific questions to your audience: At the beginning of the session, warn your audience that you will be asking questions at the end. If you just gave general information, ask detailed questions to your audience and see what they understood. This will give you an opportunity to better explain some points that might not have been understood and to clarify other topics.
  • If you are showing your teammates how to run a specific procedure or how to do something in particular, at the end of the training, change roles and have the rest of the team re-explain what you have taught them by having them take turns sharing their screens. Prepare this part in advance. For example, if you know there will be 3 people in the training, clearly limit what part each person will repeat so you don’t lose control of the training.

There is no reason for you to feel uncomfortable repeating things. When working remotely, we need to repeat instructions, purposes, and feedback more often because our communication doesn’t have the same impact as when sitting in front of somebody. Repetition is your ally, so start becoming friends with it!

5) Record all your training sessions

Even if you have kept your online training sessions short, your audience might have not understood something. Always record your training sessions and have them available for your team to check at their best convenience.

Recording on air

How should you make the training sessions available?

Record your training sessions and, with a simple editing tool, break them into themed, short clips with a maximum length of 15 minutes each. If you really despise hearing your voice and it is preventing you from making your training sessions available, ask somebody in your team to cut and upload them onto the resource center for you.

We live in the entertainment era, and it is hard for us to pay attention to boring discourses. Improve your online training skills, and you will see how your messages come across more clearly and how your instructions are understood faster. Do you have more tips? Share them with us!

About: Anna Danés

Anna Danés

Managing Virtual Teams

Anna worked in the web sector before founding Ricaris in 2009, a successful services company providing distributed solutions for companies in the web sector. Anna is now the CEO of Managing Virtual Teams where she teaches bite-sized courses and consults for companies with global teams. Follow Anna on Twitter.