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6 Qualities of Effective Virtual Training

I recently watched a speaker discuss the subject of empowerment. In this speech, he made the flippant comment that “virtual training” was an oxymoron. “Don’t you have to see the action to be trained by it?” the speaker posed? Is there really such a thing as effective virtual training?

Virtual training is a newer concept in the leadership training and coaching world that takes what otherwise would have been a rigorous classroom experience and dispenses the material over the web.

The benefits of virtual training typically have to do with accessibility or affordability:

  • It’s more cost-efficient since there is no travel involved for facilitators or for participants. There’s also no need to rent facilities or loss of productivity from having team members away from the office for an extended period of time.
  • It’s less time-consuming than traditional training. While the training consumes on a whole the same amount of time as traditional classroom training, instead of a comprehensive 1- or 2-day workshop, the virtual training is typically broken into a series of short modules that can be completed over several weeks, better fitting into participants’ schedules.
  • It’s more flexible. Because the information is provided through an online platform, participants can access the learning wherever there is an internet connection.

But not all virtual training programs are created equally.

When comparing virtual training programs, you’ll find a massive quality range. How do you know which programs are most effective? Here are some characteristics to look for to ensure you or your team are receiving an effective virtual training program:

1 – There are Live Facilitators

Stay away from virtual training programs that simply dispense information through pre-recorded videos. These have low engagement, zero personalization, and make the participants feel like they’re simply being “talked at.”

Having a live facilitator means participants are able to ask questions about information as it is being presented and always have additional support when a concept is tricky to understand or when the participant wants to talk through a point with an expert.

2 – The Training is Interactive

As with classroom training, participants learn best not when they are simply listening to someone talk about material, but when the participant themselves are able to experience and apply that material.

Finding a virtual training program that engages participants in conversation, questions, brainstorms, quizzes, surveys, Q&A’s, and any other means for participant’s to share their voice and engage, means a much more effective learning atmosphere.

3 – Information is Presented Using Multiple Mediums

There are multiple studies that suggest that the more pathways you use to record information, the stronger the recall of the new information will be in a relevant situation.

An effective virtual training program will use not only utilize an engaging live, interactive virtual classroom, but will also include materials like an interactive workbook, storytelling videos, real scenario audio clips, coaching calls, etc. to teach new information.

4 – It Speaks to Each Different Communication Pattern

Everybody learns differently. Dominant communication patterns like to get right to the point and have the most important information bullet-pointed for them. Expressives and Amiables like to apply information to real people and understand how that information affects themselves. Analytical communication patterns like detailed information.

An effective virtual training program will use a combination of teaching methods that addresses each of these communication patterns for an environment in which each participant learns effectively.

5 – It is Coach-Supported

This one is important if you’re really looking for a training program that will provide real business impact over a long period of time.

A coach-supported training program is one where each participant is paired with an experienced coach who takes curriculum from the program and helps the participant directly apply it to their personal work situation.

The information is able to be personalized for each participant, making it immediately better understood and applicable, and most coaches will also develop a long-term action or development plan with the participant that creates accountability for the application of new skills.

6 – There’s a Follow-Up Program

Multiple studies have found that only 20% of the impact of training comes from actually learning the information; 80% comes from reinforcing that information. One of the most important considerations for an effective training program is how the curriculum is reinforced once it’s learned. This is why we say that multiple medias and coach support are two important aspects of an e-training program. It also means you should look for a program that has follow-up integrated as part of their platform using methods such as:

  • Long-term development plans that involve supervisors for simple but effective accountability
  • Social networking groups for discussion and troubleshooting
  • Follow-up emails
  • Follow-on exercises to reinforce skills

How can we help?

Our leadership development and employee training experts are happy to answer any questions you may have about virtual training. Feel free to give us a call or to fill out our contact form here.

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