I have learned a tremendous amount about virtual training this year. I would like to share the experience I had the first time I conducted a virtual seminar and what I learned.
A client of ours asked us to train a session, a normally highly interactive session, to their offices around the world. I have to say that I was a little nervous about the whole idea. How would it work with group activities? How would I know if they were engaged? What about the language barriers? What if the videos we use did not translate as “funny” to them? So many questions, but definitely worth a try.
On the day of the training we arrived an hour early to make sure everything was set up. The media I was using had not been tested beforehand and so we were busy uploading everything to their provider. Copies of the presentation had been sent to the off-site offices but had not been tested. Ultimately, the video didn’t work and we started a little late connecting to the other offices around the globe.
Lesson #1: Test all media, in all locations, the week before the actual training to make sure it all works. This will also allow for any format changes. Many times video does not upload well and the format has to be changed.
Participant materials were shipped around the world for the training. Unfortunately, only some of the offices received their materials due to customs issues. The materials should have been sent out more in advance so that everyone had what they needed. Luckily we all have use Drop Box so the actual physical workbook could be printed in each location.
Lesson #2: Find out common customs issues before sending materials or use a common shipping broker. Know how long in advance materials need to be shipped so that they get there on time.
After reading and studying what to do while conducting a virtual training session, I realized that one of the “rules” did not apply to an “interactive session”. Everyone says, “Turn the mute on in each location.” That would have been awful for what I was doing. I asked every office to turn their volume on and up. It made the session so much more interactive. It also helped me hear and see who was engaged or if something was going on in the off-site classroom.
Lesson #3: Keep the volume on for each virtual office. The only time to hit mute is when there are breakout group activities taking place.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Image Dynamics will be doing many more in the future. I will always opt for a face-to-face audience I can interact with…but this is the next best thing if that is not an option.