Tips for Effective Virtual Trainings
As many companies ask their employees to work remotely to limit the spread of COVID-19, we’re hearing some common questions from our clients—“How do we continue to create great DEI learning experiences for our employees?” and “How do we make sure that all of our employees feel included when they aren’t in the office?”
Maintaining a sense of connection when people aren’t all in the same place is critical. Now, as organizations are embracing virtual work to keep their employees and our communities safe, building a sense of connection through virtual experiences is more important than ever. We’ve been conducting training virtually for years (in addition to our in person and eLearning offerings), and have found that they are a great way to create camaraderie when employees aren’t all in the same room. Here are a few of our tips for making virtual training more effective:
Before the Session:
- Review your audience. How many people will be participating? Will any of the virtual participants be in a room together, or will they be joining individually?
- Determine the technology platform you will use, and look at its capabilities. Will virtual participants be able to see the content and video of the facilitator at the same time? Will they have voice/chat capabilities? We’ve facilitated virtual sessions using Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangouts, Blue Jeans, and Skype—all have different capabilities and considerations.
- Consider which activities will work best for a virtual audience—i.e., you’d want to adapt a group whiteboarding session. For sessions that have both virtual attendees and in-person attendees, default to what works best virtually.
- Have a logistical facilitation plan. Will the facilitator be able to see the virtual participants’ video/chat? Who will manage the chat—the facilitator or someone else on the team?
During the Session:
- Set expectations with attendees:
- Encourage everyone to be on video.
- Explain what chat is for, and how it will be managed. Include details about the cadence—e.g., “I’ll be checking the chat after each section to see if there are any questions I’ve missed.”
- Create an “in-person” feel and group camaraderie.
- Do introductions. Depending on the size of the group, you can do this using video (smaller groups) or chat (larger groups).
- Encourage people to use a view setting that allows them to see all the participants on video (this varies by platform).
- Encourage engagement throughout by using polls, virtual breakout rooms, and nonverbal feedback (e.g. using the thumbs up emoji when a point is particularly salient—some platforms have buttons embedded, but you can also use chat.)
- Pro-tip: Think about when you should ask attendees to mute / unmute in advance. We’ve all been in THAT meeting!)
- Make sure everyone’s voices are heard—virtual sessions are susceptible to having more asynchronous discussions.
- Repeat questions/responses from the chat (people may unintentionally only send their chat to the host, not all the participants).
- When you pose a question, allow 10-15 seconds for people to type into chat or to go off of mute.
- If you have a mix of virtual and in-person attendees, call on virtual participants first.
These tips can be applied to any type of learning, not just DEI, so feel free to share these tips with other people in your company involved in L&D.
If you’d like tips on how to make your DEI training more impactful in general, check out a recent blog from Evelyn Carter, PhD.
March 9, 2020