Times have changed, and for many, these changes are going to be around for quite a while if not permanently. Now, more than ever, we are dependent upon virtual solutions to meet today’s unique challenges, and we must take it upon ourselves to prepare and adapt.
Since March, I have facilitated dozens of virtual training sessions and seen some truly interesting things. I once had a Zoom participant learning how to be a better leader with a baby in her lap. I’ve seen a surprised husband scoot past in the background wearing an undershirt and swim trunks. And I’ve had countless dogs announce their eagerness to participate in my training sessions.
Previously, training engagements took place in hotel ballrooms or corporate headquarter conference rooms; now, they take place in your dining room or kitchen. They take place in the spare bedroom or man cave in the basement. You used to ask, “Hey, what’s the dress code for this training thing tomorrow?” Now, we are business casual from the waist up and some form of casual from the waist down. I’m looking at you, sweatpants…
The way we learn, hone our skills, and conduct business has changed, so we too must change. Below are some tips I have compiled over the last handful of months that are designed to help you get the most out of your virtual learning experience and be more effective in this new, virtual world.
Tip #1 – Turn on your camera
In my experience, participants who have their camera on are more engaged and tend to get less distracted. Webcams also help you better connect with the facilitator and other participants. Use virtual backgrounds if you're worried about your messy office or to hide wherever your new office space happens to be. A Google search provides options for free backgrounds or you can create one from your own image (optimal size: 1920 pixels wide x 1080 pixels tall - max file size of 5MB). Here are a few backgrounds the Butler Street team is currently using:
Tip #2 – Do your pre-work and come prepared to share
Our training sessions always include supplemental exercises designed to help participants better grasp the concepts covered, and I can always tell who has done the pre-work as they are more engaged and actively participate in discussions pertaining to the material.
Tip #3 – Embrace the interactive elements of virtual training
Studies have shown that participants learn better when they are actively engaged in the learning process. So, click that thumbs up or applause button when you hear a particularly interesting or valuable bit of information. Also, simple things like chatting your answer to a facilitator’s question or driving conversations in a breakout session help you learn and retain new information.
Tip #4 – Seek out a quiet, secluded area for your next virtual session
Your kitchen table may be a comfortable place to work, but how many members of your family also find that room to their liking? When learning virtually, you will find greater success in an environment free of distractions like family members, pets, or noisy appliances.
Tip #5 – Fight the urge to surf…the web that is
Let’s be honest. No one can see if you have Facebook or Reddit pulled up on your second monitor, and although cat videos are hilarious, they will not help you develop skills to face today’s unique challenges. Our training, on the other hand, will help you develop those skills.
At Butler Street, we live by the saying “Progressive Improvement is Better Than Postponed Perfection” and we know people are faced with unique challenges today. With that being said, you may not be able to implement all five of these tips, and that is 100% fine. Do your best and tackle what makes sense for you and your situation.
Butler Street has been offering virtual training options for seven years, and we have become experts in virtual content delivery. Adapting to this new world requires new skills and abilities. For more information on how we can help you better adapt, contact us.