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Virtual training: prepare yourself to deliver a dazzling performance

John Hogan

In our last virtual training blog, I discussed what you can do as an online trainer to prepare your attendees for a great virtual-training experience.

But to ensure a truly successful virtual training, you also can’t forget to prepare yourself. Thoughtful planning ahead of time will help you deliver a memorable performance as an online trainer.

Here are 8 tips to help you get prepared to deliver a dazzling virtual training performance:

  • Location, location, location: Find a quiet, comfortable area from which to deliver training. If you’re in an office, book a conference room well in advance so you’re not at the mercy of noisy co-workers or the general din of the office. If you’re at home, the risk of distracting background noise is likely greater. So, do the best you can to minimize exposure to barking dogs, crying/fighting/hungry children, or the neighbor who decides the middle of a workday is the perfect time to cut the grass outside your window. The good news is that many of your attendees are in the same situation, so as long as the interruption is brief, most people will feel your pain – and might even get a laugh out of it.
  • Invest in a quality headset: Wireless models offer great flexibility – and besides, what’s cooler than a pair of AirPods? But relying on a battery-powered device for an extended period is a risky proposition. It may be better to stick with a wired version that’s compatible with your computer than to deal with the disruption of intermittent audio during a training. Some excellent headset units are very affordable. Just be sure to find something with large, padded earcups that you can wear comfortably for hours, and one with a flexible boom mic.
  • Skip the track pad: If you’ll be doing demos that require moving things around and typing, your delivery will be a lot smoother with a mouse and keyboard. A wireless set is cheap and works seamlessly with a docking station or directly with a laptop.
  • Watch this: Use two screens to avoid The Wizard of Oz (“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”) On your primary screen, keep everything you don’t want seen, like slide notes. On your secondary (sharing) screen, keep what you do want seen, like browser tabs for demos. Don’t have an external monitor at home? Treat yourself. Your eyes will thank you and your training delivery will be slicker. In fact, a 32-inch, flat screen TV with an HDMI port will transform your workspace into a visual wonder – and you can stream a great movie on it when the workday is over.
  • Give ’em a break: Attention fatigue sets in quickly during virtual training, so be sure to build in sufficient break time, and plan for hands-on labs whenever possible to keep things interesting.
  • Find your voice: Modulate your voice (higher, lower) and deliver your material with enthusiasm and occasional humor. A droning voice is deadly! And fairly or unfairly, people subconsciously judge others by how they sound, much like they do with looks. So if you speak with vocal fry or uptalk or you have a strong regional accent, there are some vocal exercises you can try to sound more like a voice actor. 
  • Listen up: Don’t forget to listen. When faced with a packed training agenda, it’s easy to forget to come up for air. Pause frequently to allow people to ask questions or provide relevant anecdotes. Allowing attendees to talk is important in itself, but it also gives you a break. On the flip side, don’t allow an attendee to hijack the training. It annoys other attendees and will blow a hole in your schedule.
  • Quiz time: Occasionally ask attendees easy questions based on material you’ve already covered, to keep them on their toes. Don’t be afraid of “dead air.” If no one answers at first, someone will when there’s an uncomfortable silence. It’s an interesting social experiment. Try it!

It’s always best to make sure you prepare yourself to be an engaging speaker to help your virtual training be more successful. By following these 8 tips, you can be on your way to delivering a dazzling performance.

For more overall tips on delivering virtual trainings, check out this blog post.

About the author

John Hogan

John Hogan has been an instructor and training consultant for iManage since 2011. He chiefly focuses on iManage Work, iManage Share, and RAVN, and teaches to both technical and non-technical audiences.

Prior to joining iManage he spent six years as an instructor at an online media company, where he taught classes on content management, blogging, Web analytics, and podcasting software. Hogan also spent 25 years as an editor and reporter, including five years covering information technology. He also is a U.S. Navy veteran.