Engaging People Virtually: Advice from 11 Really Successful L&D Folks

In a world under lockdown and quarantine, organizations are still needing to train their workforce. Virtual sessions have been adopted almost universally as companies (and school districts) find creative ways to make sure learning continues to happen, skills continue to improve and knowledge is shared.

I’ve talked with a lot of people over the past month, and most of them agree that even when restrictions are lifted and people can safely return to their offices, working remotely is here to stay. Several weeks ago we polled Train Like A Champion readers with the following question: When we can go back to our offices, I anticipate my team will…

  • do away with the virtual programs we’ve created during the quarantine. (2%)
  • keep what we’ve made virtual during this quarantine, but get back to regular in-person sessions. (29%)
  • continue to offer more virtual and elearning-based training programs. (69%)

A virtual workforce means less overhead for companies as they need less physical office space. It also means more flexibility for – and hopefully happier, more productive – employees. Of course, all this also means that it’s very, very important to design virtual programming well.

Recently, TalentLMS published strategies from a variety of L&D experts on how to ensure engagement and effectiveness in virtual delivery. Here is a preview of what each expert had to say:

Connie Malamed — Let people shine by helping them become self-directed learners
Tim Slade — Don’t try to recreate the in-person experience in an online environment
Stella Collins — Imagine your learning audience and ‘talk’ to them as if you’re together
Brian Washburn — Ask questions and run online polls
Ashley Chiasson — Chunk learning into small pieces
Crystal Warren — Create a “micro lessons” library
Christy Tucker — Use scenarios with characters your learners can relate to
Anna Sabramowicz — Engage learners with a story and let them influence its outcome
Travis Jordan — Practice makes perfect
Allison Rossett — Give learners guidance on what to do and how to do it
Marina Arshavskiy — Use quizzes, exercises, group discussions, and real-life simulation

It’s a very interesting report because each person offers a slightly different yet complementary take on some of the keys to making virtual programs effective. If you have the time, I highly recommend reading the full report. Perhaps there are a lot of things you’re already doing, but I’ve also had people share with me that some of the ideas found in this report have sent them down rabbit holes, researching some strategies that can make their programs shine even brighter.

While these 11 folks are smart, they don’t hold a monopoly on all that is good about virtual design and delivery. What are some of your thoughts? I’d love to see what other ideas you may have to make virtual training effective and engaging in the comment section below!

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