Zoom training sessions can be highly effective – unless they are very boring. These tips will help ensure your participants stay engaged and learn more
It’s hard to learn anything if your attention is wandering or you are falling asleep.
So, if you hope to deliver effective training to your charity staff then it’s important to make the training sessions interesting.
That in itself can be a challenge, but the task is made far more difficult when you are delivering the training session remotely to staff working at home using a video conferencing platform such as Zoom.
Whether you are maintaining your digital leadership by upskilling your charity staff, or onboarding new people who will be doing remote working, here are some ways to ensure your Zoom sessions hold everyone’s attention so they get the most out of their remote training.
Training is more enjoyable when there is a social element to it, and when participants chat to each other before, between, and after sessions they often chat about what they have just learned – reinforcing the effectiveness of the training.
That’s why it is important to start remote training courses with an icebreaking session which gives everyone an opportunity to get to know the other participants even though they are all doing flexible working in different locations.
Some training hosts ask each participant in turn to introduce themselves. But in a Zoom meeting with multiple participants, this can be difficult to do – it can become too noisy to hear people or people inadvertently introduce themselves when their microphone is muted.
Better alternatives include asking people to choose an interesting Zoom virtual background or to hold up an item which says something about themselves. This can work as an effective conversation starter to help participants get to know each other.
You may be planning a couple of hours of digital training, or a remote training day, or even a course that lasts a whole week. But whatever the case, there is a fundamental rule that very few people can concentrate on training for more than about 50 minutes in one stretch without starting to lose their focus.
So perhaps the most important rule is to break up training sessions into chunks of about 50 minutes, followed by a break of ten minutes when participants can stretch their legs, make themselves a cup of tea, let the dog out, or just chat with other people in the training session.
Remote training sessions can very quickly turn into hours of watching a talking head on a screen. When this happens, participants tend to continue to listen while casting theirs eyes around their room for anything more interesting to look at. Invariably something else will attract their attention, and their focus on the training will have been lost.
But it’s easy to avoid this happening by giving participants something interesting to look at on their screens. In practice this means switching between you and video, photography or eye-catching graphics.
Of course it may not be easy to find video or visuals which are relevant to the training, but making the effort to create something using a digital tool such as Sparkol VideoScribe or Easel.ly could be the difference between a remote training session which is interesting and effective and one which is a waste of everyone’s time.
If your remote training is not interactive, then you are expecting your participants to sit through the course in silence while you talk at them. In that case you might as well just write down the information you want to impart to them and hope that they read it.
A better alternative is to provide opportunities for participants to participate in a more active way. The simplest way to do this is to use a feature such as Zoom’s "Raise Hand", allowing your participants to ask questions. You can also use the feature to interact with the participants by asking questions during your training such as "who has used this digital tool already?" or "who can think of a better way of doing this?"
Another way of holding people’s attention through interaction is to use live polls. For example, if your training is about your charity’s products and services you could ask participants which service delivery channel they think is currently most in demand or which product they get asked about most. By asking participants to vote you are guaranteeing they are thinking about the subject in question.
Learning by doing is an important part of most types of training, and it also provides a welcome break from learning by listening. A good way to make things interesting is to split participants into small groups of two or three and assign them to different breakout rooms in order to work on a task or to come up with a solution to a training problem such as how to improve operations and efficiency.
An additional benefit of this type of virtual training is that it provides an opportunity for participants to get to know each other and work together for a short period even though they are working remotely.