Making the transition from onsite trainer to remote trainer can be a challenge—there's a lot more you need to do to keep people engaged when the distractions of email, slack, browsing, and environment are outside of our direct control. Here are some tips and tricks developed by the GitLab Professional Services team, for presenters facilitating remote training sessions using video conferencing and webinar tools.
When you can see participants it keeps them accountable for paying attention, and you’ll be able to observe the non-verbal cues indicating a wane in attention. On the other hand, if you have a large number of participants having everyone's video on at the same time can be distracting – in that case, you can invite specific participants to turn on their video when they are speaking. Also keep in mind that some participants may not be comfortable with sharing their video – be sensitive to this and do not make video sharing a requirement.
If your session will last more than 90 minutes, build in a break at least every 60 - 75 minutes. Let attendees know what time they need to return, and request they indicate their return by turning their video back on and/or raising their virtual hand (if that tool is available in our video conferencing software).
For a session you would normally deliver in 1 day onsite, break it up into two 3-4 hour sessions on two separate days. In between the days you can assign homework so that attendees can practice applying what they learned or complete pre-work ahead of the second session.
At least every 10-15 minutes, ask attendees a question they must respond to. You can ask them as a group and wait for volunteers to answer. But if you’re not getting a variety of attendees participating in providing responses to your questions, your next go-to approach is to randomly call on a participant individually to answer a question. This will motivate everyone to pay attention so that they are prepared when you pick on them.
At the beginning of the session show attendees how to ask questions using your video conferencing tools, whether that is virtually raising their hand or submitting questions using a Chat or a Q&A tool. Take frequent designated Q&A breaks at least once or twice per 60 minutes of instruction.
A team member can play the role of session manager, managing questions coming in from the chat and being time keeper, reminding you of breaks and Q&A points.
Include at least one activity for each hour of instruction. If possible adjust the flow of your content so that attendees can jump right into their first activity within the first 20 minutes of your session.
Here are some of our go-to techniques to encourage remote engagement and collaborative learning.
If your video conferencing software includes “pinning” capabilities, use these to your advantage to increase participant attentiveness.
If your video conferencing software includes “polling” capabilities, use them to increase engagement and interest.
Be sure to practice ahead of time with pinning your video conferencing Chat or Q&A panes to your window while you are in presenter mode with your presentation slides. This will enable you to quickly bring these panes into view so you can see questions coming in and respond in a timely manner during the session. Most video conferencing systems offer a variety of options for doing this whether you have dual monitors or a single monitor (for example, here are recommendations for pinning Chat while sharing a presentation in Zoom).