Over the years, first as a sales trainer for a Fortune 500 computer hardware company, then as the founder of two sales training companies, I’ve learned how important it is to integrate the best technologies for learning and development (L&D) with the best practices in training. I have also seen the danger when the emphasis on technology trumps the basics of good delivery impeding training ROI.
Here are some basics for delivering really good live, virtual learning that will help ensure you make the most of your investment:
1. Make it interactive. Involve your participants at every step so they can interact with the training team and with one another. Be sure to leverage the technology available but only if it will enrich the learning experience and not distract from it. Technology choices include everything from a web-based collaboration platform with chat and teleconference, recorded video, breakout rooms, survey and polling capabilities to sophisticated telepresence technology.
2. Use presenter dialogue, not monologue. Have multiple people guide the instruction. For example, 3g Selling’s live sessions are led by a trio: a host, a subject expert, and a web producer. This format stimulates greater participation than a one-person “lecture.” In addition, multiple people can provide different perspectives, argue, share an insight or joke, and provide a richer, more inviting virtual learning environment for the participants.
3. Make a collaborative connection. Connectivity to real-life application of knowledge and with the other participants is crucial. Each virtual learning session should be concluded by providing a clear and meaningful assignment that allows participants to apply what they have learned. Begin each session by reviewing how participants applied what they learned from the prior session. This not only connects participants to the training material itself but also connects everyone to each other’s ideas.
4. Don’t rely on PowerPoint to teach. Engaging with others in two-way, extemporaneous communication enriches the virtual learning process. Although beautiful pictures, charts and video can reinforce training points, knowledge lasts longest when there is interaction between the facilitation team and peers.
5. Keep it short. Maximize time for participant questions and interaction. Our society seems to suffer from attention disorders! So any session lasting longer than 75 minutes – which is a little less than most feature films today – means you’re going to start losing traction with your participants.
6. Pace, repeat, summarize. This may seem obvious, but surprisingly these basic L&D techniques are often overlooked. When delivering live training online, it is crucial to pace the lesson, repeat important points and main ideas by having participants share what they are learning, and summarize each section before moving on. Utilize the tools in the virtual learning environment to help ensure you don’t lose your participants or that they don’t lose you!