How Can You Conduct Better Virtual Training Sessions?

Virtual training can be a powerful learning tool given the right circumstances. However, without the right approach, an organization’s training efforts will very likely fall short. The problem is that it’s not exactly easy to figure out what that approach involves.

Where do you start? How do you ensure you choose the right tools and technology? And most importantly, how do you avoid some of the most common virtual training mistakes and roadblocks? 

From creating your virtual training environment to hosting more effective training sessions, we’ll go over some virtual training best practices

Setting the Foundation for Virtual Training

Virtual training generally takes place in a software-based environment. This environment may potentially incorporate a range of different tools and features, including video conferencing, text chat, or augmented/virtual reality. Some environments might also leverage virtual training labs to create a sandbox environment where participants can engage in hands-on training via simulated real-world scenarios. 

You’ll also need to decide how you’ll deliver your training. Generally speaking, you have two options: 

  • Self-paced training. This method allows learners to progress through training materials on their own schedule and at their own pace. 
  • Instructor-led training. Here, an instructor engages multiple participants in a series of scheduled virtual sessions.

Bear in mind that this is not an either/or choice. There’s no rule saying your business can’t offer both options or leverage both in its training programs. 

Designing Engaging Digital Content 

Don’t make the mistake of treating your virtual training the same as in-person training. They’re entirely different mediums and require different types of content.  Whether you’re repurposing old training content or designing new training materials, keep the following best practices in mind:

    • Plan for shorter sessions. Generally speaking, a single virtual training session should not last more than a few hours — any longer, and you risk losing the attention of exhausted participants. 
    • Include breaks.  Structure your training sessions to give participants regular breaks. A good rule of thumb is five minutes for every fifteen minutes to half an hour of training — so if you run a four-hour session, consider a ten to fifteen-minute break every hour.
  • Embrace interactivity. Virtual training is uniquely suited for delivering engaging, hands-on, interactive content. Examples include quizzes, sandboxes, and hands-on training scenarios. 

Selecting Virtual Training Technology and Tools

While the specific software components you deploy within your virtual training environment will vary depending on your industry and use case, you’ll generally want to make sure yours covers the following functionality: 

  • Communication, such as live chat or video. 
  • File sharing.
  • Interactive polls and quizzes.
  • Recording.
  • Breakout rooms. 
  • A digital whiteboard. 
  • An integrated learning management system. 
  • Scheduling. 
  • Mobile support. 
  • Analytics

Ideally, you’ll want to consolidate all of this functionality into a single platform — or, failing that, a consistent, cohesive software environment. 

5 Key Virtual Training Tips

Now that you understand the basics of establishing your training environment, creating content and selecting your software, we’ll conclude with a few general best practices to keep in mind throughout the entire training process. 

Facilitate Collaboration

Encourage participants to interact, collaborate and commiserate with one another as part of your training. In addition to allowing for interaction during training, consider creating a chat group or discussion board outside your training environment where people can connect between sessions. 

Use an Analytics Tool

Analytics software can tell you a lot about how people interact with both your training content and your training tools — and more importantly, it can help you identify potential bottlenecks and quit points. 

Gather and Apply Feedback

In addition to applying analytics, ask participants for feedback about both your training environment, courses, and content. Analytics can only tell you how people interact with what you’ve created; you’ll need to ask them directly to find out how they feel and what they think about it. 

Make Training Fun

People learn more effectively when they’re enjoying themselves. Find ways to make your training more entertaining and engaging by leveraging gamification elements like achievements, points, or challenges. 

Look for Opportunities to Improve

No training program is ever entirely perfect. There’s always something you can do better — and you should always be on the lookout for it.