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With most of training sessions now being moved onto online platforms it is easy to concentrate on the mechanics of how to set up and run a virtual training session and neglect some of the things that we naturally did in the physical training room


Here are some thoughts that probably aren’t new to you however in your rush to go online you may have forgotten.

  • Sign on Early

Sign on early and at about 10 minutes before the session begins display a welcome slide and whilst the audience is getting organised, play some inspiring music. This not only shows that you are prepared and ready to go but will enable people to adjust their volume etc in readiness for the training.

  • Greet the audience

Consider having your camera on and greeting the participants just as you would do in a physical training. Thank them for signing on and begin the rapport building process by looking  at the camera and smiling . Say your name and invite participants to display their name so that everyone knows who they are -it is not uncommon for shortened versions of their names to be set as default. Just as you would do face to face -ask them how they would like to be called during the training event and ask them to rename themselves on screen..

Ideally you will have an attendance list and can note when everyone is there and will know if everyone has signed on so, you can start bang on the dot.

  • Don’t forget the housekeeping discussion

In much the same way as you cover the housekeeping rules in a physical training -don’t forget to include these in your virtual training.

While I perhaps don’t need to explain fire exits and where the bathrooms are in the world of virtual training , it is always useful to explain what to do if they or you lose WIFI signal.

If you are planning to take a break during your session and expect the session to last for more than 60 minutes I would certainly recommend one -tell them when they can expect it and what the duration is likely to be.

Might also be useful to discuss whether you would like them to have their cameras off or on and when to go on mute etc.

Most platforms have some sort of ‘chat’ facility and I encourage participants to enter their questions or comments in there as the session proceeds. As a pre-cursor I ask everyone to say ‘hello’ on the chat so that they know how to use it.

  • Present the Topic

Give the name or title of the session that you are facilitating “The title of our session today is ………….”-then explain the benefits of attending , for example “today you’ll discover the 3 most important things that you can do to boost your motivation, increase your knowledge of xxxx and improve your xxxxx skills.

Then consider asking “ What will it mean to you to achieve these thing? –

Most platforms allow you set up a whiteboard or to annotate on slides directly and if you have these facilities record their responses and save them in order to review whether they have achieved this at the close of the programme.

  • Run an icebreaker

There have been a number of studies which show that by facilitating an ice breaker you can improve the effectiveness of the event.

Vanessa Van Edwards author of her book ‘Captivate-use science to succeed with people’ talks of an experiment which illustrates the difference between 2 teams about to set off on a scavenger hunt where one team undertook an icebreaking activity and the other did not. The team that undertook the icebreaker was much more successful than the one that didn’t.

There are lots of activities that can be easily transferred to virtual classroom -I often use Word Search and other puzzles. Why dust off some the exercises you did face to face and adapt them for the online world.

Incidentally a scavenger hunt works well -you don’t have to keep your attendees glued to the screen every moment and getting up and moving really does help with concentration.

These are 5 of things that I thought of -What are your top 5? Have I missed anything that you consider vital in the first 10 minutes of your online session? If so Please let me know I’d welcome any suggestions.