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3 Tips For Interactive Virtual Training (Hint: It’s Not About The Software)

3 Tips For Interactive Virtual Training (Hint: It’s Not About the Software)

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’ve always remembered this quote because I basically don’t believe in limitations. And I also think this applies perfectly to virtual training.

Too often, people get hung up on whether they need a fancy-pants training software with all kinds of bells and whistles to deliver effective virtual training. It’s certainly nice to have, but the truth is, effective training is not about the software. It’s about how you design your content using proper instructional design techniques and then creatively using the training or webinar platform features available to you.

And just to stand behind my words, I’ve highlighted ways to take advantage of some of the features in GoToMeeting to show how you can deliver an interactive learning experience…no fancy training software required.

In this article, I’ll highlight:

  • A common mistake made when designing virtual training
  • My favorite hack to developing interactive activities
  • 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?

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.

My Favorite Hack to Develop Interactive Activities

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 whether or not you’re 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 training or meeting software features available to you.

Corena Bahr is a Consultant & Trainer helping experts at corporations and global firms deliver world-class webinars for client outreach and customer onboarding. She teaches experts how to create a human connection with a virtual audience, structure content for engagement, and how to use the “bells & whistles” of  webinar platforms to drive business goals. Corena is also a LinkedIn Learning course author and public speaker.

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