While many of us have valued the convenience of virtual training, there is little doubt that virtual and hybrid training sessions can be disengaging. We can’t see people or their facial expressions very clearly and far too many sessions have few opportunities to engage. Even though we now have great meeting platforms such as Zoom or MS Teams, it’s still very two dimensional and lacks the exceptional connection that we can have with each other in-person.
So we need something to fix that, we need to intentionally build engagement into our training design and delivery. I’m going to talk about three different ways to do this.
One: We can design our training so that there’s more interactivity and less ‘telling’ or lecturing of any kind. Can some content such as statistics or a process be sent out in advance for pre-reading or video? We need to triage our training content to take out what can be read in advance. What’s the point of using valuable connection time to dump information on people rather than using that time to interact with them and how to use the information?
Two: We need to design interactivity into our session in advance. Let’s say we want to discuss the pre-read content that went out ahead of the training session. When there are a lot of people, we can use chat function so that everybody can make their comments at the same time and then we can look at them and see if there’s any patterns there. If it’s a small group, we can go round a speaking order to make sure that everybody has a chance to add their input.
We need to pro-actively plan a way to make discussions more interactive and more engaging. Without that, you will default to a large group discussion, where half of the people who are introverts may feel like they’re not able to weigh in, because it’s too daunting, or feel they can’t get a word in.
Three: The third way we can make online training sessions more interactive is to use our skills as facilitators. For example, if you want to draw in someone who typically has limited contributions, we’re going to help them to answer by ‘priming the pump’, where we invite them to speak from their point of view, based on some of what we know of them, their department, location or from stories they have told previously. I know you can really speak to this topic because you told me some great stories. Tell me what you learned about those experiences that the group might benefit from.
Facilitative Trainers ensure that the learners are spending at least as much if not more time talking, practicing, and interacting with the content than the trainer is spending lecturing.
So, we need to acknowledge that when it comes to connection, virtual training can be a mess and can come across as disjointed and even confusing. We need to plan for engagement. We need to use the different methodologies that the platforms allow us like polls and chats and breakouts and so forth. And we need to use our facilitation chops to ask more questions and get the learners engaged in their learning.
By Kevin Quinn
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