There is a lot of material available that focuses on how trainers can effectively communicate with learners. However, there is very little on the subject matter of how to be an effective virtual trainer. This blog article – hopefully in a small way – will address this dearth of information. This is particularly important, given that using webinars as a facilitation tool has increased by leaps and bounds in recent years.
Round pegs in square holes
Some on-line trainers merely try to use traditional classroom resources online. This is like trying to force a round peg into a square hole because face-to-face teaching allows for better communication through body language and facial expressions with the trainer and other students.
When some trainers teach on-line, rather than try to address communication issues in any meaningful way, they ignore them. They often try to train with what ends up being a lecturing style, where the only communication is them talking and the students have very little opportunity to learn in an interactive way. There have been cases in a 60 minute webinar where the students were not asked to participate until the last few minutes, and then only to be given the opportunity to ask a question – long after asking a question would have been helpful. Rather than being an effective teaching method, this highlighted how disconnected the trainers and learners were.
Connecting the trainer and learner on-line – one key is to think about what occurs before the lesson
Some trainers have a problem where they try to cram too much information onto one slide. Rather than using pages of texts, using graphs and diagrams or bullet points with a verbal explanation can be much more effective.
Another thing to remember is that you don’t want learners to have full access to information during the webinar. If this is the case, they may be reading previous slides while you are explaining a new one. Good trainers would give detailed resources after the webinar, via email.
Some learners do not have a great internet connection. Nothing disrupts an on-line learning process like ‘lag time.’ So be careful with using long video clips and webcams.
A trainer could provide exercises to learners before the webinar, either for those who join the webinar early or by email in the days leading up to the lesson. This allows for them to be mentally prepared before the lesson and will lead to better interaction in an environment where interaction is difficult.
The trainer should also ensure that all learners can see and hear the webinar clearly by doing sound, volume and connection checks before the webinar starts. Also, learners should be asked to turn off mobile phones and other devices at the beginning of the webinar to ensure optimum participation.