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Unlocking Remote Training Success: Lessons Learned from 3 Years of Pandemic-Driven Education

President Of TrainSmart, Inc.

Before March 2020, requests for virtual training were few and far between. Moreover, it was rarely the preferred platform, with many people believing that virtual training was a poor substitute for the “real thing.”

That was then, and this is now. In December 2022, Simplilearn released the findings of a study on how the pandemic has affected Employee Skills Training.

One of the key findings is that companies that were forced to offer virtual training now choose to offer it because it can be cost-effective, and studies show online programs are equally or more effective than in-person training.

Now that trainers realize that virtual training isn’t going anywhere, many want to up their game and search for Best Practices to increase their effectiveness and participant engagement.

Some of the steps to achieving a vibrant online learning experience are the same as in-person training. You need to start with a clear learning objective and consider all aspects of your audience — from their learning styles to learning preferences, generational differences, and experience levels.

That’s where the similarities stop. The number one mistake organizations make when offering online training is simply transferring their in-person program to an online platform without adapting the training to a different medium.

Best Practice: Virtual training requires its own design, development, and delivery

Experts say the sweet spot for virtual training is two hours. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a full day in the virtual setting, but it requires a different rhythm than a full day of Face-to-Face Training.

Attention spans are shorter in the virtual training, which means the design should include a steady pace of breakout room activities, solo activities with the camera off, Interactive Whiteboards, limited time screen sharing PowerPoints, and lots of breaks for participants to take “a nature bath.”

When it comes to delivery, virtual trainers need to build in activities, questions, or discussions every 3-5 minutes.

Best Practice — Make It Interactive

One of the key challenges of remote training is keeping participants engaged. Sessions that only rely on screen sharing a PowerPoint are at a disadvantage. It’s almost impossible to keep participants engaged when a PowerPoint dominates their screen.

Most participants can only look at a slide for 5 seconds. After that, their eyes wander – often to their smartphone and boom! Engagement is lost.

Making a training interactive means limiting the PowerPoint to essential slides or avoiding it altogether. Instead of having the PowerPoint up for the entire time, consider using the chat function to share slides that are typically bullet points. Use interactive whiteboards like Google Jamboard to have participants interact with the information that would typically appear on a slide.

Use tools like Kahoot, MentiMeter, or  Poll Everywhere to review the session and gauge real-time performance.

Best Practice — Engage with Participants Within First Few Minutes

The Harvard Business Review refers to this as the “Nowhere to Hide Rule.” The article states, “When people enter any social setting, they tacitly work to determine their role. For example, when you enter a movie theater, you unconsciously define your role as an observer – you are there to be entertained. The article says the biggest threat to engagement in a virtual setting is allowing participants to take the observer role.

How do you combat that? First, give them an activity to do with fellow participants in the first minutes of the training. It could be a question to answer, a problem to solve, or an opinion to share – the key, get participants involved with each other as soon as possible.

Best Practice: Cameras On, Lighting, and Microphones

It can’t be said often enough: cameras in virtual training should not be optional. Allowing participants to have their cameras off is like teaching in a Face-to-Face setting with everyone’s back to the facilitator. It’s off-putting. It discourages engagement. It encourages multitasking.

If you haven’t already, invest in ring light and a professional microphone.


Virtual training has become an essential tool for many organizations to provide cost-effective and efficient employee skills training. While some trainers may have initially transferred their in-person training to the virtual platform without adapting it to a different medium, it is crucial to design, develop, and deliver virtual training with its own unique best practices. Some of the critical factors to keep in mind when designing virtual training include pacing, interactive content, engaging participants from the start, and encouraging camera usage with proper lighting and microphones.

By following these best practices, trainers can create a vibrant online learning experience and increase participant engagement, leading to improved learning outcomes. As the popularity of virtual training continues to grow, it is more important than ever to ensure that virtual training is not just an afterthought but is designed with its unique best practices in mind.

Attend A TrainSMART 3-Day Train-the-Trainer Course

Attention all trainers and aspiring trainers! Are you looking to take your training skills to the next level? Do you want to learn new techniques and strategies to make your training sessions more engaging and effective? Then, TrainSMART’s Train-the-Trainer workshop is just what you need!

By participating in this workshop, you’ll gain valuable knowledge and skills that will help you design, deliver and facilitate training sessions that meet the needs of your audience. You’ll learn how to create an effective learning environment, use interactive training techniques, and deliver presentations that captivate your audience.

So what are you waiting for? Register now for TrainSMART’s Train-the-Trainer workshop and take the first step towards becoming a top-notch trainer. You’ll leave the workshop with the skills and confidence you need to take your training career to the next level. Don’t miss this opportunity – register today!

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