Virtual training is a wonderful career option for digital nomads, who prefer to work while traveling and getting to know what the world has to offer. If you consider training as a career option, but you would also like to work from a coffee shop in Amsterdam, a terrace in Paris or a co-working space in Beijing, maybe virtual training is what you were looking for.
Glamorous as it may seem, virtual training needs to be well managed if you want it to be a good experience both for you and for your attendees. Master virtual trainers adopt five habits that might be useful to you too.
Prepare in advance
Alexander Graham Bell said that “before anything else, preparation is the key to success”. Try to imagine as many scenarios as possible and prepare for the unexpected.
First of all, master your subject and find the best ways to teach it in a virtual environment. Think of several approaches in which you could present your content and develop diverse learning materials.
Remember that people have different learning styles, so different approaches will help you interact with different students and trainees.
Anticipate any technical issues and try to help your learners if they have difficulties with the platform.
Last but not least, set expectations about content delivery, communication process, and learning outcomes.
Engage with your audience
Virtual attendees might feel isolated, uncertain and distracted. Try to engage them in the learning process by creating dialogue, inviting social connections, and interacting as frequently as you can.
Have interesting activities on the platform, that engage learners from the moment they log in. For instance, quick quizzes to check previous knowledge, short funny videos about the subject (TED conferences are also useful), a short preview of future steps.
Overall, create a team spirit among learners, and help them interact by using the tools available on the platform. “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success” (Henry Ford).
Become a multi-tasking guru
In a fast-paced online environment, multi-tasking is a key skill of successful virtual trainers, presenters, and facilitators, especially if you teach several classes at the same time. Find a balance between keeping focus (on participants) and moments when you allow yourself to let things slide.
Set a clear schedule for live sessions and stick to it. Postponing may quickly become procrastination, and procrastination is the surest way of giving up.
So, stick to the schedule, be a good example for your learners, as this will help them create a routine, stay on track and work towards their goals.
A study conducted by Quantified Communication showed that voice has twice the impact than content in a presentation. In other words, it’s not only about what you say, but also about how you say it.
So, if the sound of a speaker’s voice matters twice as much as the content of the message, make sure you improve your presentation skills and work more on your voice. Make the most of your voice’s volume, pitch, tone, breath, and rate of speech.
Fast speakers will exhaust their attendees, show one will bore them to death. If your breath is too heavy, try to control your stress level and relax before live sessions. Meditation, good sleep, and regular exercise may help.
Record yourself, listen carefully to your presentations, and monitor your voice. If you like it, others will like it too.
Tame the technology
Take a deep breath, keep your calm… technical issues are bound to happen. Prepare for them in advance and try to prevent them as much as you can.
You don’t need to come up with a magic wand and solve all problems every single time (unless you are an IT support trainer), but regardless of your specialization, try to know how platforms perform across different systems.
Find on forums and discussion groups what are the more frequent issues and how they can be solved. Read carefully the FAQs, go through the user guide and have helpline numbers at hand.
And always, always have a plan B! It will help you relax more, perform better, and love your job.
All in all
Master virtual trainers are not born, they become very good at what they are doing because they work on their skills, try to improve and show empathy. Self-improvement, preparation, and engaging attendees are essential for trainers who want to help their learners thrive.
Veronica is a multilingual trainer of trainers. She has years of experience working with adult learners, both in Higher Education and in the business sector.