Facilitation skills for trainers: top 5 must haves!

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So, you are a seasoned, confident trainer experienced in the world of face-to-face (F2F) delivery.  However, the virtual environment is different from the F2F classroom and so your virtual delivery needs to reflect this.  How do you take your skills, energy and flair that you already have and make it work in an online environment? Just taking your F2F slides and delivering them online won’t work without making some integral changes in order to deliver effective virtual training. Stick right here- we’ve collected all of our top facilitation skills for trainers in the virtual environment.

And remember, people are more easily distracted these days with temptation of technology being so instant and at our fingertips.  This is heightened in a virtual environment as pop-ups, apps and other programmes are an easy catch for our attention.  It’s never been more important to be delivering our training in such a way that grabs and keeps the attention of our participants, and having them fully immersed and involved in our training.

5 top facilitation skills for trainers in the virtual world

We’ve pulled together 5 key tips for delivering effective virtual training that will help you to be a better virtual trainer, engage your participants and deliver on your learning objectives.

5 top facilitation skills for trainers in the virtual world

We’ve pulled together 5 key tips for delivering effective virtual training that will help you to be a better virtual trainer, engage your participants and deliver on your learning objectives.

1. Get tech savvy

This is the number 1 facilitation skill for trainers. Whatever platform(s) you will be delivering on (Zoom, MS Teams, WebEx etc.), it is critical that you take the time to explore the functionality of the platform. After all, if you don’t know your platform well, how can you use it to it’s full potential?  What can it do?  And importantly what can it NOT do?  Can you do breakout rooms, annotate, poll?  Learn everything you can about your chosen platform and then practice, practice, practice.

You need to be able to navigate the platform confidently so that you can deliver your training smoothly, hand-holding your participants through the functionality, and dealing with any tech problems with a smile on your face.  Remember, you want the tech to enhance your training… not get in the way of it.  Check out our YouTube channel to see some of our platform tutorials that will give you some best practices for virtual training.

 2. Rock your webcam

Is being good on camera really a necessary facilitation skill for trainers? The answer is yes! Get used to it – you are going to be on camera a lot from now on!  So, get yourself webcam ready in order to present yourself in the best way.  What does your background say about you?  Some, but not all, platforms have the ability for you to create a false backdrop, or even one you can upload with your company logo on it.  If not, then think about arranging your background, and lighting so you are clear and easy to see.

Encourage your participants to switch their cameras on also.  It’s a good idea to mention this in your pre-comms so they can be prepared too.  Here are some more tips for getting webcam ready.

Finally, get used to looking into the webcam when you speak.  This may feel a little strange at first, but it creates a great connection with your participants as they experience you giving them eye-contact.  This really helps to keep them engaged and focused too.

3. Stick to time

Time feels different in a virtual environment and everything takes a little longer.  A good facilitation skill for trainers to have is to be ruthless with your editing when you plan your workshop. Only keep in what is critical to delivering your learning objectives.  Know where you can flex too so that you can allow for rich conversation without having to rush content later.

In order to deliver effective virtual training, set the right pace from the start so that the workshop keeps moving, and yet participants don’t feel rushed or hurried at all.  Breakout groups take a little longer in a virtual setting so make sure you build in the time needed.  Here are some tips on keeping your participants to time when they are in virtual breakout groups.

Finally, find a way to keep yourself to time.  For example, know where you need to be by minute 30.  You don’t have to stick rigidly to this, but if you find yourself way ahead or behind, then you know you need to flex in order to get back on track.  Running hugely over time can mean participants get distracted, or end up having to jump on to other meetings or commitments.

4. Create a conversation

One of the biggest concerns for the virtual trainer is awkward silences… AKA tumble-weed moments. But a really useful facilitation skill for trainers is to be able to actively avoid these.  The key is, rather than wait, or expect participants to speak up, or answer questions verbally, you need to direct them on how to respond.

For example, when you ask a question, signpost your participants to answer in the chatbox, type on the screen, share an emoji, etc.  Then you can take those responses and ask individuals to elaborate and create a conversation from there.  No more tumbleweeds!

It is helpful to prepare your questions in advance.  Keep them short and to the point and ideally put them into your slide deck.  Decide how you want the group to respond to. This way, your questions are super clear, and your participants know exactly how to react.

 5. Bring flair to your delivery

Trainers new to virtual delivery have a lot to think about.  We often see new virtual trainers being so focused on the tech, the content, their slides, the chatbox, etc. that they forget to bring themselves to the party!  You have an amazing personality with lots of fun and energy that you bring to your F2F workshops, remember to bring that too to your virtual workshops.

Consider standing up or sitting on the edge of your chair to give yourself more movement.  Inject fun into your workshops by using gamification or quiz apps like Kahoot.  Just don’t be too formal… please.

Remember if you are enjoying yourself, your participants will too.

Final thoughts

Delivering effective virtual training takes an additional set of skills to ensure you create an engaging and useful learning experience for your participants.  However, having a bank of top facilitation skills for trainers can make all the difference! So, follow best practices by getting fully upskilled.  And remember, practice, practice, practice!

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