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Tips&Tricks for more engaging virtual workshops

Tips & Tricks for more engaging virtual workshops

While so many workshops are online today, many trainers find it challenging to find ways of creating meaningful and impactful learning experiences in this new environment.
Here are some tips that might help you as a trainer to enrich your virtual workshops with more engagement and impact.

What does it mean to create a meaningful and impactful learning experience?

In the end, what matters most in training is what will the participants learn.
How are you, as a trainer, supporting and guiding participants in achieving learning goals, and making learning happen?
There are many aspects that impact that: understanding of how the brain works and how the learning process works, making learning active so that participants would reach their own conclusions, ensuring that learning is real-life relevant and applicable in their own contexts, and much more.
Engagement means having participants actively immersed in a learning process, motivated to develop their own insights, and both mentally and emotionally involved is one of the essential aspects of making learning happen.
It is also one of the ones which trainers when moving to new virtual space often call out as the most challenging one.

Challenges of virtual learning

Virtual learning is a bit different medium than the one most of us are used to as a trainer. It takes away some of the befits of a “physical” training room, but it also gives us some new opportunities.
It is important is to be aware of the most common challenges in virtual learning – so we could work out our tools and approaches of addressing these.
Some of the main challenges in virtual learning are:
   – trust and “sense of the group” is more difficult to build
   – creating interaction can be more challenging
   – levels of energy and emotions in the “virtual room” are harder to impact
   – online workshops tend to be more tiring and energy draining than live workshop would be (both for trainer and participants)
   – it’s harder to “sense the room”, as we have less visual feedback from the group
   – technology can get in a way of quality of communication, as it creates stress due to tech problems, own insecurities or not knowing the tools so well
   – motivation can be lower, both in participants and trainer
   – we have less opportunity to truly “train” for some of the skills in a practical way
   – we have less opportunity for “side conversations” – participants less connect during breaks, and we have less chance to “keep an eye” on them individually
These are just some of the challenges of virtual learning.

A moment to reflect

Before you jump into the tips and solutions, it is important to ask yourself
– Which challenges of virtual learning are the biggest for you?
– What are your ways and ideas on how to solve them? What are you still missing in order to solve them even better?

How to deal with the challenges of virtual learning?

To create meaningful learning experiences in virtual space, we need to rethink the learning process and methods and ways of achieving learning goals.
Virtual learning is NOT about just transferring the same methods and look for the most similar tools and exercises to those we were using in a “physical” setting – it is about creating a whole new experience, based on learning goals and on the appropriate approaches to achieve these goals in virtual space.
In this article, I am sharing several tips & tricks and webinars that are here to help you boost your next workshop with practical ideas and “quick wins”, and that might help you address these challenges.

If you are looking to build your deeper skills as a trainer, you might want to join us for Trainers Toolbox “Keys to successful virtual learning” or “Train the Trainer” courses, where we focus much deeper on building skills and ways to work with all the challenges of learning process.

Building engagement and active participation in online workshops

Often I ask attendees in the “Keys to successful and engaging virtual learning” course to let me know which aspects of their skills as a virtual trainer would they most like to strengthen and advance.
There is a trend: almost every trainer votes that they wish to be able to create more engagement and interaction, while very few vote that they wish to strengthen their ability to build trust and a safe environment in the group.
But how can engagement exist without safety, motivation and without the right atmosphere for learning?!
To put engagement in the service of learning, first we must understand that engagement is a cognitive process – it is a state of being motivated, interested and actively reflecting and processing content and ideas that we are discussing and learning in training.
Behaving in an engaged way – being active as a participant, in behavior, but even more important, mentally active – comes as an (optional) consequence to inner motivation and engagement.
Too often trainers fall into trap of creating interaction in behavior (e.g. using polls just to push the audience to interact, or calling out participants directly by name), without building a meaningful learning process that is the foundation.
Interaction should be in the service of learning goals and active mental processing, not our goal as a trainer, nor a distraction from the learning process, reflection and developing learners’ own insights and conclusions.
One of the first questions that we as trainers should keep on asking ourselves is “How is this interaction (or a tool) serving learning goal and learning process?”.
Here are some tips on how you can make the interaction in your workshops meaningful and purposeful, and make engagement deeper, instead of chasing “quick and superficial” interactions.


Using trainers’ presence as a tool that supports the message

For a trainer, our body language, voice and words are powerful communication tools to make information that we are transferring clear, compelling and memorable.
But these tools suddenly work differently when we transfer them into virtual space! A huge part of our physical energy and personal power disappears, and other aspects such as voice suddenly get much more attention.
Here are 4 tips & tricks (more clearly explained in the free webinar) to use personal presence in your workshops to guide participants’ attention, support learning points and make content more memorable.

Check out webinar: Deliver engaging and impactful virtual workshops with these 15 tips and tools.

Using visual to underline the message and enhance learning

While many of us are used to using flipcharts, whiteboard, physical space and occasional powerpoint as a diverse toolbox to use the visual channel as a powerful way of underlining the learning, visuals in virtual workshops suddenly lose their versatility. At the same time, they get much more attention and a “bigger stage” than the speaker does.
It is tempting to fall into a trap of neglecting the visuals and try to put the speaker in the focus – but that way we lose quite an opportunity to leverage the power of visuals, plus “talking head” video easily becomes monotonous!
It is also tempting to fall into a trap of making visual “the king” – to put it into the center of attention, and try to make it work instead of us.
These 5 tips (more clearly and deeper explained in the free webinar) will help you find the middle ground between these two traps and to

leverage visuals and use them in an impactful way, yet to also put them in service of learning instead of distractive.

Check out webinar: Deliver engaging and impactful virtual workshops with these 15 tips and tools.

Notice: This is not a guide to basic design and using visuals – but 5 tips to make them more impactful in virtual workshops.

A moment to reflect

Which of these tips would you like to leverage in your next workshop? How will you do that?
– How can they help you with the challenges of the virtual learning that you recognized as the biggest for you?
– What are you still missing in order to solve them even better?
I wish you an engaging and fulfilling virtual workshops ahead!

Looking to learn more about how to make virtual learning engaging and impactful?
Join us for Keys to successful and engaging virtual training online course

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