Improve your virtual training skills

Published: 2020-07-30 11:10
Profile picture Ellinor Karlberg Holst
I had new photos taken by Essity’s local photographer Lisa 🙂

As a part of my job as a Digital Workplace Adoption Specialist at Essity I conduct a lot of training sessions and presentations on various subjects but mostly related to Digital Workplace or presentation skills.

Training people in a virtual classroom is both very similar and very different from face-to-face training and there are several aspects to consider to make your training effective and memorable.

Technical aspects of your virtual training

First of all;
Your technical platform suddenly becomes very important. It is important because if it fails you badly, your participants will not be satisfied with your training and your key messages will be lost in whatever technical difficulties you are having.

So weather it is bad sound or bad video quality, slides that are not showing correctly or technical aids that are not working this has a major impact on your training and how it is received.

So be prepared. Be prepared and test your equipment and software prior to your training and make sure that you know the tools that you are using.

First consider basic technical aspects like the ones I mentioned in a previous blog post:

  • Ensure that you have a good internet connection (use a wired cable or place your laptop as close to the wifi router as possible).

    Bonus tip! Check your wifi signal by using a (free) Wifi/Network analyzer app on your mobile or go to fast.com to check your signal.
  • Use a good quality headset or speaker.
  • Restrict the use of video of you are on an unstable connection (but only then – video is generally golden for training)

Furthermore consider other technical aspects like:

  • Which online meeting platform are you planning to use?
    How many do you have to choose from when taking into account your company’s policies, software portfolio and information security guidelines?
  • How does the chosen platform answer to your technical needs?
    How does video, file sharing, chat, whiteboard, note taking, polls, co-editing and break-out rooms work in this particular meeting platform?
  • Do you need to make preparations?
    For instance opening up and sharing a whiteboard, preparing a notebook, creating a PowerPoint or uploading a file into the meeting beforehand.
  • Where will you store (and share) the training material?
    Can you store it on a public workspace, like a SharePoint site, for easy access for everyone? Or will you share from other cloud storage or even email?

Plan your training

The technical aspects are of course not the end of it. You need to also plan & prepare your actual training beforehand, considering the virtual setting of the meeting.

And what do I mean by that?

Well, if you typically make a PowerPoint presentation for your training and have demos, exercises, questions or tests weaved into your physical training you have to now make sure to transform those elements, or add new ones, into the your virtual training session.

First think about the entire training:

  • What are the learning objectives?​
  • How will they be achieved in a virtual training session?​
  • Do participants need to prepare?

Once you know the answers to these questions you can start to think about the training and the detailed steps.

How to begin the training

An important aspect to consider is the beginning of the training, to:

Get people talking

So how do you do that?
Well, small talk can work well when you already know all the participants. But if you don’t know them you should plan for an ice-breaker, a presentation round, a check-in and/or other activities that gets people talking.

Follow this link and this link to find ideas on how to start your training session to get top interactivity.

Some of my favourites are;

  • Greeting people with their name as they enter the call
  • In a small group, including all the participants names on a welcome slide
  • Asking all participants to express their mood of the day with an emoji in the chat
  • Using a whiteboard or a co-editable document to have a little live brainstorming. Have time to discuss the ideas afterwards.
  • Agree on the training rules; What do we expect from each other today? List things like; being on time after breaks, engaging in the training, answering question, turning off other programs etc.
  • Having a check-in in a written or spoken format. For example, what are the participants expecting of the session?
  • Having some kind of vote, either in a poll format or on a line in a co-editable document/whiteboard, like this:

I practised some of these in my latest course at Essity which was called Train the Virtual trainer. A great course with the external trainer Åse Thorsén.

Throughout the training, keep adding interactive elements to keep participants engaged and on their toes.

One thing I particularly liked from the Train the Virtual trainer course mentioned above is the idea of having group work (break out rooms of some sort) combined with a break. This allows the participants to decide for themselves the order of those elements and the length of them.

Tips & tricks for your next virtual training

Here I will list some additional tips and tricks to apply when conducting a virtual training session.

Stand up

If you have the possibility, deliver your training while standing up. It makes it easier to talk (quite simply, there are more room for your lungs!) and it naturally gives you more energy while presenting.

Dress as if you were training the group face to face

That gives you confidence! So avoid the sweat pants 🙂

Use body language

Moving your arms and expressing yourself through your body makes a tremendous impact. This is true even if the camera is turned off!

Put your laptop on a box

If you are using the camera (which I recommend you do) make sure to get the best possible camera angle. To avoid the frog like appearance – put your laptop on a box!

Have a moderator

This is one of my top tips for bigger training sessions. Have someone help you during your virtual training. This person (or several if you have a really big training) can do things like:

  • Monitoring and answering the messages in the chat
  • Muting individual persons or the whole audience if there are disturbing sounds in their background.
  • Being a speaker partner; asking questions, making clarifications, help to answer questions, making comments to add interactivity etc.

Add festivity

Add some festivity in your training (if suitable for the training subject and audience of course).
This can be done by adding music, a quiz or some fun games.

Give and receive energy

A successful training involves both the trainer giving energy, information, knowledge, insights etc. but also the participants giving their input, energy, questions and examples. You should therefore foster a learning environment where the participants interact with you as a trainer and with the fellow participants too. Create an environment where we learn from each other!

You got this!

An old colleague of mine once told me (when I was nervous before doing my first real classroom training for a new system):

”Remember, you know more than they do about this topic so just go for it. Be confident!”

And that is also my message to you;
Go for it, be confident, but be prepared!

That was some of my tips & tricks to make your next virtual training a success. I am sure I’ll come back to this topic in a coming blog post. But in the meantime I want to know from you:

What is your best tip for making a virtual training come alive?


Ellinor Karlberg Holst
19 november 2020

Thank you for your nice comments and suggestion Nicole. I very much agree to the mike open suggestion. For small meetings it makes such a difference when everyone is unmuted and we hear breathing and humming in the background. But of course, if there is any disturbing sounds in the backgrounds one should always consider it and be muted in between talking :-)

Nicole Arsenault
09 november 2020

Great post Ellinor! So glad to see the Train the Virtual Trainer has been so useful. The course is still running, and if you go into the Learning Compass you can put your name on a waiting list and I will open another session with Åse.

My main tip is to leave the mike open. It makes a big difference to all of us at home to hear each other, to laugh and to be spontaneous. If you have many people in the session then just open the mike in the beginning and have a group breathe, laugh or hello. Then you can have people open the mike now and then instead. Good luck everyone!

Giulia Salvestroni
30 juli 2020

Really insightful post with a lot of useful practical tips which are a great support during this "boosted virtual era"! I have also attended Åse Thorsén´s training and I can recommend it!
Thank you Ellinor!

Lämna ett svar

Din e-postadress kommer inte publiceras. Obligatoriska fält är märkta *


Mer från Sverige

Ellinor Karlberg Holst

Digital Workplace Adoption Specialist

Ellinor Karlberg Holst

Digital Workplace Adoption Specialist

Ellinor Karlberg Holst

Digital Workplace Adoption Specialist

Longing for the mountains
12 oktober, 2020
Essity på sociala medier
Mer från Sverige
Ellinor Karlberg Holst

Digital Workplace Adoption Specialist

Ellinor Karlberg Holst

Digital Workplace Adoption Specialist

Ellinor Karlberg Holst

Digital Workplace Adoption Specialist

Longing for the mountains
12 oktober, 2020