If, like me, you’ve mainly delivered training in groups, face to face, or 1:1, a change all of a sudden to deliver online sessions may be quite daunting!  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been involved in plenty of meetings, and 1:1’s online and never had any real problems but delivering training online?  I much prefer face to face, but recent times have changed everything…

My business world has changed in such a short amount of time, but one thing I’m determined to do is to turn this into a positive opportunity, time to learn and expand my horizons. During my learning curve going online, I’ve quickly learned the cross over and best practice which I’d like to share with you as five my top tips:

Preparation – You’ve still got to organise; you’ll still need to plan your session with a structure and the resources everyone will need.  Are you going to send these out in advance or during the session through your chat?  Don’t fall into the trap that because you can click a few times and get something up, its always going to work!  Which online platform will you use?  Are you familiar with everything on it?  Does everyone have access to that platform and know how to use it?  You’ll all need access and practise.

Background & Distractions– When you pick somewhere to sit, you’ve got to make sure that you choose a place where nothing's going on behind you.  People are naturally curious, and highly visual people will spend more time looking around you than at you if there’s something more ‘interesting’ in the background.  There are loads of virtual and customisable backgrounds available on platforms such as Zoom, but be careful with these, they can also be distracting.  When planning your sessions, make sure you turn off anything that will go ‘ding’ and go somewhere you won’t be disturbed.  Especially at home, make sure you tell people what you’re doing and that you don’t want to be disturbed.  Remember that poor guy on BBC News whose young children walk into the background while he was in full and serious flow?

Body Language and Tone – With it being online, the chances are high, it’ll only be your face that’s going to be seen. This makes your facial body language hugely essential, so remember to look at the screen like you’re looking at them in the eye.  You’ll likely have to concentrate hard on smiling more even when you’re not talking; smile, and you’ll look confident and relaxed with the chance of getting lots of smiles back! Also, it’s not a bad thing to still use your hands as long as they don’t block your face.  Nods and acknowledgement through your facial body language and voice are hugely important to show that you’re listening.  Make sure you give a little more pause after speaking to allow people to speak or ask questions as there can be a delay with technology, especially if you’re talking to someone on the other side of the world.  Concentrate on changing your pitch and tone of voice as some built-in microphones can make us sound a little monotone, and if we try to speak quieter, it can have the same effect.

Keep it Engaging – You might be tempted to go into 'tell mode' where you do all the talking as it becomes almost like a live PowerPoint session; you’ve still got to ask questions, and you can still use activities to engage.  On Zoom, for example, there are facilities online like whiteboards, break out rooms, and polls, so get to know how to use them and engage your audience!

Keep up the best practice – Just because you’re delivering online doesn’t mean that you have to forget all the great things you do in your other sessions, although it might challenge you to think a little differently.  I recently read a great LinkedIn post for someone going through this exact process who’d been a little stressed her puppy would bark in her session; she ended up using her pup as the icebreaker which turned out brilliantly for her and her delegates!  Remember, it’s still training, just delivered by a different means.

I have to admit that I’m still learning myself, and I’d love to hear from you if you’re an expert in online training or indeed still learning like me; what have you learned or what would you share as a top tip?

We deliver a number of our courses online and our online courses are virtual classrooms where you would learn as you would in a traditional training environment.  You can see these courses here.

Scott Fraser is a Master Trainer at Target Training and delivers our PTT Train the Trainer courses and our Advanced PTT Train the Trainer courses.  You can read more about him here.