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Virtual Training Tips When Using Meeting Software

Many of you may remember the Nike ad where Michael Jordan explains (in a longer quote), “It’s doing what they say you can’t. It’s not about the shoes, it’s about what you do in them.” I should add here that I’m a total noob when it comes to sports, so nobody get too excited by my use of a famous athlete’s wise words. Still, I’ve always remembered this quote because it applies so perfectly to many things. Like virtual training.
While having a fancy pants training software with all kinds of bells and whistles can certainly make your training role easier, sometimes we just don’t have that option and only have meeting software available to us. The truth is, effective training is not about the software. It’s about how you design your training using proper instructional design techniques and then creatively using the meeting software features available to you to deliver an interactive learning experience.

In this article, I’ll highlight:

  • A common mistake made in virtual training
  • One of my tricks for thinking outside the virtual training box
  • 3 ways to create engagement using GoToMeeting

A Common Mistake

Let’s take a look at the typical instructional design process. Where is Delivery Method in relation to the other parts of the process?

Um, it’s near the end! But you know where everyone puts it? At the beginning. As in, “I have to deliver a new training on XYZ compliance and I’m going to do it virtually.” So you’ve already mentally limited yourself in your creative thinking to identify learning activities and develop interaction. I strongly encourage you to stop thinking about the virtual delivery method and design your training FOR YOUR PARTICIPANTS. Otherwise you’re actually designing it for the software.

One of My Tricks

Alright, with the above in mind, when you get to Learning Exercises, this is what I have my clients do: I have them pretend they are delivering their training in person. What learning activities and what types of interaction would you create if you were to deliver face-to-face? This gets us in a place open to more ideas, and many of us can visualize interaction better when we think of face-to-face. THEN – after Sequencing – take a look at the features available in your meeting software and determine how you can simulate the in-person activities. I cannot tell you how many Aha! moments I get when teaching this approach.

3 Ways to Engage with GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting caps attendees at 25, which quite frankly, is a good thing. The more learners you have in your session, the more challenging it is to provide true engagement and there is a risk of diminished learning outcomes. But I want to point out that I can appreciate not every trainer has the luxury of keeping the virtual class size small and you must use a platform that allows for higher attendance.

Calendar Invite

With GoToMeeting you can schedule your training using a calendar invite. This gives you the opportunity to add materials like pre-course work, and add links to articles or videos to the invitation email. Providing pre-course work introduces your participants to the subject matter and gives them time to formulate questions. This tactic also maximizes your in-session time.
The other nice thing about using a calendar invite is when you have a multi-session course (I highly recommend you break up your content into multiple sessions), you can use the recurring meeting feature which will automatically add all sessions to participants’ calendars, including reminders.

Webcam Discussion

We’re all familiar with the chat function, so consider switching it up by creating a webcam discussion or role play between 2-3 participants. Other attendees can give feedback or add to the discussion through the chat. GoToMeeting includes HDFaces which is the highest resolution video conferencing quality currently available among web conferencing providers. Prepare your participants in advance that you will be engaging them through activities using webcam. No one wants to be caught on a bad hair day!

Guided Practice with Screensharing or Keyboard and Mouse

When using GoToMeeting as my training platform, two of my favorite features to use for guided practice are passing the presenter role or giving keyboard and mouse control to another participant. I generally set this up by giving a demonstration, then asking for a volunteer (um, because otherwise I’ll just make you a volunteer) to do a similar task by either giving them presenter role where they can do the task on their desktop or give them keyboard and mouse control of my desktop. In GoToMeeting, if I give keyboard and mouse control, I always have override control and can remove the permission at any time. This activity is great when you are teaching new software or workflows.

I hope these examples of engagement inspire you to come up with ideas of your own when you are using meeting software for your training. There really is no shortage of ways to keep your participants interacting and actively learning. Remember that the trick is to first come up with activities as if you were delivering your training in person, then determine how you can creatively translate the meeting features available to you.

Have a Virtual Training Challenge?

If you have a training challenge you’d like me to address (I love a good challenges), go ahead and enter it in the comments, or pop me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Training!

Corena Bahr is a Webinar & Virtual Training Consultant and a LinkedIn Learning Author. Through her consulting company, Your Webinar Guru, she works with organizations to improve customer and employee onboarding through virtual training and documentation. Corena also delivers her signature program “Advanced Techniques in Virtual Training” to organizations across the globe.

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