Virtual Training Facilitation Requires a Unique Skill Set
Virtual training is here to stay, and to get the full advantages of it, your facilitators need to go beyond knowing the material and having classroom experience to develop an entirely different skill set- and mindset.
Facilitating Virtual Training
Virtual training is finally stepping out from the shadows and onto center stage. Not only are more organizations pivoting to virtual out of necessity, they’re also seeing how effective it can be. Beyond the convenience and cost savings of reaching people wherever they are, virtual training can often deliver additional learning advantages as well.
But as is the case with any kind of instructor-led training, the facilitator is a huge factor when it comes to the learning experience. It’s one of the reasons we have a licensed certified facilitator program in place for clients. While there are many benefits to using internal trainers to deliver sales and service training, your internal facilitators need have the skills, tools and practices to maximize learner engagement, retention and outcomes. That’s particularly important in virtual training sessions.
5 Things You and Your Facilitators Need to Know to Get the Full Value Out of Virtual Training
Virtual training is not a webinar
Many sales leaders push back on the idea of virtual training because they equate it to webinars, where people log in to passively listen (and probably multitask) while someone lectures at them for 30 or 45 minutes. They’re right to push back on this idea, because virtual training should not be delivered like a typical webinar.
Webinars are great for disseminating information, but developing skills and getting sustained learning outcomes requires an entirely different approach.
Think small to get bigger results
The best virtual training is designed around smaller “bites” of information delivered over shorter periods of time with intimate groups of 10 to 15 (maybe 20) people. This allows for a more conversational approach, with open-ended questions that give participants the opportunity to share how the concepts can be applied.
When the groups are smaller, people are more willing to open up and try new things. And with each session, they build up more trust and want to engage with each other around what they’re learning and experiencing as they apply new skills.
Fewer participants also means the facilitators can focus on the needs of individual learners. Often in the classroom, people who have Supporter or Controller Behavior Styles will take a back seat while the Doers and Talkers commandeer the conversations. In virtual training, facilitators can create break-out discussion groups of just three or four people, giving everyone the opportunity to engage.
Take advantage of the inherent retention benefits of virtual
As a participant, a full day in the classroom can feel like you’re drinking from the fire hose. It’s a lot to take in, and when we receive so much information at once, learning retention is usually lower. Almost by necessity, virtual requires spacing out the learning, whether it’s in segments throughout the day or over several days. This gives the brain a chance to process the information, and that typically leads to higher retention and application.
Set the stage for success
It’s important that participants know what to expect and what’s expected of them. The best way to do this is by getting top leadership involved and explaining to them what they need to communicate about the training. It’s also a good idea for top leadership to participate in the initial session and kick it off by reiterating those expectations.
Your best trainer may not be the best virtual facilitator
The best virtual facilitators encourage sharing by asking open-ended questions and allowing people to bounce ideas off of each other. This is the kind of discovery learning that’s often more possible in virtual environments because of the smaller group sizes. But it requires a mindset shift from what most classroom trainers are used to.
Instead of serving as the trainer/facilitator, disseminating a lot of information from the front of the classroom, virtual facilitators are facilitator/coaches who pose a lot of questions about the information in order to get people to apply it. They open the floor for others to engage because they know that the longer they’re talking, the greater the chance is that their audience will tune out. In many ways, the virtual platform is an equalizer. Instead of being up in the front of the room, you’re at the table with your learners, leading them through the conversation and helping them debrief it.
Virtual on-boarding and training is here to stay, and to get the full advantages of it, your facilitators need to be able to pivot effectively in this environment. Even if they know the material inside out and have been delivering training for years, this is a different setting that will require them to use their skills in different ways.
Rather than taking a trial-and-error approach, equip them with professional training or coaching to help them be successful right out of the gate. They’ll build up their proficiency, competence and confidence much faster, and your learners will reap the benefits.