Running Successful Online Trainings
Running Successful Online Trainings
The rapid evolution of technology allows for allows for the accomplishment of numerous tasks that do not require physical meeting between the parties involved. Imagine what it’ll be like in the next 15 years. I can imagine most things going virtual and contact-less. I imagine me doing away with bulky hardware and switching between options by just waving my hand. I can also see parents dropping off their children in school in driverless vehicles while they remain at home doing other chores in the house.
Never before has the world had to adopt virtual congregation as during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had several key events and sessions cancelled in order to combat the spread of the virus and thanks to some great minds important events have been successfully held virtually.
We did conduct a 6-day training online, with me being the lead trainer. The workshop was aimed at training financial managers, especially from KP-led institutions in Tanzania, how to utilize Excel for better financial management. I must admit that this was my first ever experience training online, and with shallow experience on virtual meetings. I mean I’ve used Skype, WhatsApp, etc. to hold meetings, especially with people I know but not one that goes for 3 hours with all ears and eyes on you. The workshop was a success in that we were able to deliver what was promised in the concept note, and from the responses gathered from the participants after the workshop, they all agreed that they’d gained valuable knowledge and experience from the webinar.
Why go Virtual
Service providers were really hit by the COVID pandemic. Myself, being a full-time trainer, was one of those hit hard by the government’s directive prohibiting physical learning in academic institutions. We had to wait and wait until late October when learning in tertiary institutions resumed (I’ll tell you about my experience during the pandemic in a different post). I must admit that waiting for schools to re-open was me being in my uncomfortable comfort zone, and you know what they say about the comfort zone..
You can use a variety of webinar and productivity tools as a trainer / instructor to ensure continuity of service delivery to your clients, which in turn keeps your income streams flowing.
What it Takes
Picking up the experience from the online workshop, here are is what we did to ensure it was a success:
- Choose the most appropriate Platform. Research and decide on the best platform to use for your online training. We have Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet among many others. When choosing the platform of course you’d consider things such as cost, bandwidth usage among other factors. For example, the free version of Zoom allows for a group meeting of up to 40 minutes only, with most people reporting that it actually uses a lot of data when compared to platforms such as Skype. In our case we employed Zoom Pro, Google Classroom and Google Drive to deliver during the workshop.
- Be a Team. Are you a one man (or one woman) show? I know there are most of us who love journeying alone, but being and acting as a team helps a lot. Have at least one person to support you. Also ensure that you are in different locations to cushion yourself from Internet or electricity outages. If one person experiences any interruption then your partner can always proceed without leaving your participants hanging.
- Invest, a little. We tend to frown a little when it comes to money but hey, what I am about to mention are things that you probably have. Get a quiet place, a laptop or whatever device that can handle the Apps without much hustle, an extra screen beside the one you will be sharing, headphones if you want to filter out the surrounding sound, and of course a good (and secondary) Internet connection. The reason you may need to have an extra screen is that in case you are sharing your screen with the audience, you may want to do other stuff on your secondary screen (such as quickly Google something for that webinar or respond to a WhatsApp message) without it being viewable on your shared screen. You need more than one Internet connection so that in case there’s outage you can quickly switch to the other.
- Material. What will you be training on? Have the slides ready in advance plus other training material. If for example you’ll be training on Excel have some dummy data ready in your worksheets for demonstration purposes. Go through your material in advance in order to make your session as smooth as possible
- Interactive Sessions and Feedback. Communication is a two-way traffic. Even though your participants are there to listen and see what you’re doing, you have to create an avenue to hear from them as well. You could consider using Aha Slides during your presentations, and use Google Forms to collect feedback from your audience after the webinars. You should have a sharing with your team of facilitators to review each session and how to improve the next one.
- Other things that you would consider is the familiarity of your audience with the topic you want to discuss, how knowledgeable they are with the use of computers, language they prefer, etc. Do remember to put your phone on silent or vibration mode if you can’t turn it off completely during the live session. Let those around you know that they shouldn’t disturb you during the session times. Note that you may have to literally lock yourself in a room to avoid interruptions when you go live.
Of course there are numerous challenges with online trainings, with the top-most being the limited ability for you to control your class; and fully gauge their participation and understanding of what you’ll be communicating across. Do expect instances of participants having their microphones on and picking all the unnecessary surrounding noises during your sessions; or even some participants being in ‘attendance’ but are actually away from their devices. All in all, webinars are starting to be part of us and we have to learn to embrace it.