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Sep 06, 2018 Karen Vieth

Tips for the Accidental Virtual Trainer

How to Improve Your Skills as an Accidental TrainerAre you one of the many accidental trainers out there? The function or topic expert so good at their job that management asked you to train others in your organization? You aren't alone! InSync Training's lead facilitator Karen Vieth discusses four key areas you can focus on to become a dynamic virtual facilitator. Learn how to identify your natural skill, learn tips and strategies for better virtual facilitation, and take your sessions to the next level — on purpose.

Chances are, you didn’t dream of being a virtual facilitator when you were little. But here you are, quite by accident. You may have recently graduated and landed a sales position that turned to training. Or you had a job for a while and found yourself in the training department years later. Regardless of how you landed in training, it's a great spot to be, where you help others learn the tricks of the trade.

A Common Situation

Fortunately, you find yourself enjoying your new found talent. Then one day your boss comes in and says training budgets are getting cut and we have a new initiative. They ask, “Want to try your hand at virtual training?” It sounds easy – simply teach like you do every day, but sit behind a computer instead of standing in front of a classroom. "Sure!" you say, "I’ll give it a whirl," and off you go to do your first webinar.

However, despite your enthusiasm and to your dismay, it is a really boring learning experience.

People aren’t talking and one person even starts snoring. "What did I do?" you ask yourself in a panic. "I am a terrible trainer," you lament. Absolutely not true.

You are not a bad virtual trainer. You are an inexperienced virtual trainer. Even the best face-to-face trainers need a specific virtual skill set to become GREAT virtual trainers. So if you find yourself in this position, I have some tips for you to help you bridge the gap from face-to-face to virtual.

Tip 1: Be yourself and know your technology.

Don’t change your voice, persona or training style when you enter the virtual classroom. If you talk with your hands in front of a class, then talk with your hands behind the computer. If you point to things in class while training, then find a tool in your virtual classroom that allows you to point to content within the platform. If you walk the room and gain energy from the group while training face-to-face, then walk your office and talk to the windows as if they are people.

If you can convey your true self as the exciting face-to-face trainer in the virtual space, then people won’t miss you in this learning environment. If they miss your face, turn on the webcam. But if they miss your training presence, then you need to get back to your training style.

Tip 2: Don’t lecture.

Don’t turn into a lecturer just because you are hidden behind a screen. In fact, the more animated you sound online, the more that enthusiasm will carry into your voice, creating vocal variety. Just like a good actor can capture the audience from the moment they appear on screen, you can do the same thing in the virtual classroom.

Teach using the technology. Connect your learners, the content, and the technology to create a dynamic learning space. Speak to the learners as if you expect to get a response. Don’t just rush through content in order to get it over with. Enjoy the content, create role plays, allow for that second voice, and have fun.

Tip 3: Personalize and create relevancy.

Just like in the traditional classroom, preparation matters in the virtual classroom. Know your content well enough to personalize it with stories that create relevancy for your learners. For example, instead of teaching learners the steps in changing a tire, tell the story of when you learned to change a tire. Then let them loose in a breakout room to talk/walk through the steps.

It is important for the content to come alive in a virtual classroom setting so that learners have a chance to not only learn content but apply it while the instructor is still with them, so that when they are back on the job they draw from these experiences.

Tip 4: Expect interaction.

Don't go into the classroom full of negative “what ifs." What if no one speaks up in class? What if no one has a question? What if no one shows up?

Instead, go into the virtual classroom with positive "what ifs."  What if people speak up in class? What if people have questions? What if everyone shows up?

Well, when learners do show up, and are allowed a voice, they will show up again and again. We have to provide the interaction and engagement to add enough value to the class to get learners to sign up for the next class.

And that's the goal, right?

To learn how to deliver interactive and engaging virtual lessons check out our Virtual Classroom Facilitation Mastery Series and learn how to be a dynamic online trainer, on purpose!


Published by Karen Vieth September 6, 2018
Karen Vieth