+44 (0)207 097 1426 david@davidoswald.net

Another lockdown blog post, how’s lockdown life for you this week?

For me, I’m hoping that mullets come back into fashion as I had no idea my hair grew so fast! You think the queues for toilet paper at the shop are bad, the queue at your local barber is going to be epic!

Enough smalltalk let’s get on with the blog post.

Online meetings and training sessions

You know things have got bad when a brand name starts being used a a noun and a verb. You must’ve heard so many conversations like, “Sure, I’ll Zoom you.” or “Let’s get on a WebEx and sort this out”.

Now, Zoom or WebEx might not be your poison of choice when it comes to online meetings and training sessions, and there are lots of alternatives out there. To be honest, I quite like Zoom and it has all I generally need for the training I have to deliver. It’s straightforward to host, and to join as a delegate, but it’s not right for everyone.

And my hunch is that the digital transformation that we’ve been pushed into has permanently changed the way we will look at training in the future. You need to hone your digital training skills fast or you’re going to miss the digital transformation train!

And if we’re able to deliver quality training, without jumping in a plane, train or automobile (I miss John Candy) then the effectiveness of in-person training must be analysed in greater detail. The cost of travel, time out of the office and the benefit gained from a face to face session must be weighed up against online training delivery.

If you’re a chalk and talk trainer you need to make sure you can handle digital too, especially after lockdown.

But how do we best deliver quality in an online training world?

I’m a big believer in using the right tool for the right job. And from a training perspective, you just have to look at what your training delivery needs are.

  • How interactive is the training session? Hopefully very!
  • How many delegates can I comfortably support in one session? Don’t spread yourself too thin. You learners need you!
  • What tools do I need to demonstrate on the online session? Practice using them online. Rehearse Rehearse Rehearse!
  • How do I ensure my delegates are focused on me? Step away from the social media tabs!

But you also need you to think about your surroundings. If you’re not used to delivering online it can help to think about the questions you might have when you are delivering training in person.

  • Will there be a big enough screen for my delegates to see clearly? Can your delegates see what they need in enough detail on their laptop screen?
  • How many delegates are attending? Does my online meeting software allow me to have enough delegates on my session?
  • How many delegates can I look after in one session? How many delegates can I see on my screen at one time?
  • What is the dress code for me and to a certain extent your delegates? I may be at home, but I am at work – don’t get caught out with the jogging bottoms shirt and tie combo!
  • When will we schedule breaks? Do I need to schedule two different online sessions, or is it okay to keep to just one online session?
  • How will people know where to go? Do my delegates need to download an app or register for an account?

Basically we’re looking at using the right online platform in the right way. Not all online platforms are the same. You need to research each platform’s functionality and how you might best use them to deliver your training.

Now there are more questions to ask but I hope you’re getting the idea that online sessions need just as much preparation as in person sessions.

In fact, they often require more planning. For example, my wife is a Pilates teacher and she is now delivering her lessons online. This means I have to conduct my online training and meetings in the kitchen! I’m writing this from our London flat and it’s tiny! So I need to consider how I’m coming across when I’m delivering training.

If you want to be seen as a professional, you have to look professional.

So, I’m dressed appropriately but I also need to make sure that my background looks professional. A plain wall as a backdrop is great, and you can get a rollup banner quite cheaply nowadays so you can even have your company logo behind you.

But I also need to consider lighting. If you’re using a built in webcam this is especially important. Built-in webcams can often be quite poor quality and they need all the help you can give them. Now we don’t want a spotlight shining straight in your face, but a desk lamp with a low wattage warm bulb is great.

PRO TIP Try not to light yourself from above or below, unless you’re trying to get the Queen Bohemian Rhapsody look. You’ll cast loads of shadows on your face and generally look a little scary. And another big no no is sitting in front of a window. Trust me, it looks like you’re in witness protection!

“Sorry could you say that again?” Being in the kitchen means there are no soft furnishings around me so the sound can echo a little. To combat this I use my AirPods Pro as they are small, not really noticeable on camera and they have microphones so if I look away from my screen my voice is still clear. You can use a headset mic if you don’t have bluetooth headphones and most delegates will be fine with that as they’ll be able to hear you clearly (and you’ll be rocking the Madonna or Britney Spears concert look).

I like to ask my delegates to go on mute to avoid any feedback whilst I’m training and only unmute when they want to ask a question. I prefer this to getting delegates to use the chat function to alert my attention. It’s one less thing to monitor as you’re delivering your session.

Lights, Camera, ACTION. The last thing to think about is recording your training session. If you intend on recording your session then you need to tell everyone present on the session BEFORE you hit the record button. I like to get introductions and that kind of thing out of the way before I start recording. I also ask delegates to park questions until a suitable break as it means that when they are watching the video back, they get an uninterrupted recording that is great for use in training other people in their company who weren’t on the live training session.

Personally, I’m loving the flexibility that online training is now offering me and I think you need to realise that when we get let out of lockdown a lot of businesses are going to be looking at office and travel expenses. If we’ve been able to keep working remotely, do our businesses necessarily need all the office space or business class travel? Though I do miss the beer and gin fridges at my company office and don’t get me started on those business class airline goodie bags.

Being able to deliver online training in a professional manner is going to be an essential skill that you need to have mastery of.

PS If you’re on LinkedIn I’d love to connect with you. I post more often on there, and my posts are often shorter!! (Let’s connect).

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