Setting up an online workshop as part of a learning journey to develop your team has never been easier.
Virtual video communication has been gaining traction in recent years, and the pandemic has exploded the public’s and your employee’s appetite for online workshops too. Despite what many are saying about the ‘Zoombie’ effect, virtual workshops are here to stay.
Running a virtual workshop for your team provide so many benefits, including strengthening your brand and bringing your employees together in our physically distant world. It boosts morale and of course, most importantly, it helps equip your team with the skills that they and your business need to succeed.
At Excel, we have been delivering virtual training for many years, and today, we share some of our strategies on how to deliver a standout virtual workshop or training session.
Let’s get started with the planning and prep for your virtual workshop.
1. Setting Your Goal
The first thing to consider is why you’re running this virtual event.
You should have a primary goal for the event that focussed on what your participants are going to gain from the event. This is called ‘Outcome Thinking’. It changes the focus of your session from the processes you’re putting into it as a facilitator, to what the participants are going to be doing differently as a result of joining the session. An example might be ‘my goal is for my participants to leave the workshop being able to communicate more clearly in virtual meetings’. For sector-specific areas for your business, such as sales or project management training, your goals will be more specific and skills-based.
Once you have your goals in place, this is something to work towards, and the material, content and script will then flow. For example, suppose you are looking to improve virtual communications in meetings. In that case, you will want to make your team feel comfortable learning new digital skills and focus on simplifying processes for them.
If virtual training is new to both you and your team, your goal does not have to be far-reaching. Many training sessions don’t succeed because the trainer tries to pack too much in – keep the premise of your training and your goal concise and above all, achievable.
2. The Right Preparation
Next, move onto the physical planning of the workshop, including writing your key points and creating source material you will be sharing with attendees (such as slides or documents you will be sharing on–screen).
Will you be hosting with colleagues or special guests? Once you have your key points and an agenda for the workshop, run it through as a practice session as many times as you feel necessary for it to be fluent.
Some hosts prefer to stick rigidly to a script; others feel more comfortable going off-piste – rehearsing what you’re going to say will help you figure this out beforehand. Whichever you prefer, it’s always best to build flexibility into your session so you are always prepared for the unexpected.
Planning accounts for around 70% of the work you will do towards your virtual workshop, so although it might feel like this part of the workshop is unforgiving, get it right, and the rest will follow.
3. Tech Tools
If you haven’t already, familiarise yourself with your platform of choice beforehand. Get to grips with the features, the screen sharing function, learning how to mute and unmute (if necessary). You don’t want the impact of your session to be dampened by tech illiteracy.
Top tip: make use of the platform’s support function – you can even reach out to the support team beforehand to let them know you will be running an event and ask if there’s any specific knowledge or advice they can give which will help your event run smoothly.
In addition to your conferencing platform, you will also need a tool to showcase your material, such as Zoom’s built-in whiteboard or Google Slides.
It sounds simple, but please do remember to get a proofreader to check your accompanying material before the event. There’s nothing more offputting than realising that there’s a typo on one of your slides as you’re facilitating!
4. Connecting With Your Audience
Finally, and most importantly – how can you ensure you connect with your audience to make an impact and deliver on the goal of your workshop?
Your workshop needs to be engaging and efficient enough to ensure the audience stays interested throughout, ensuring retention of their new skills.
- Keep it succinct. People soak up information easier when sections are shorter; this study by the University of Surrey Business School found that a few short learning sessions are proven to be more impactful than one longer one. Even in our leisure time, the Netflix generation is most often drawn into watching multiple episodes in a series rather than a full movie, even though it’s longer overall!
- Stay upbeat and positive throughout. Don’t lose focus or energy towards the end of the session! Presenting is a skill that gets easier the more you work on it, so remember that practice makes perfect.
- Include participant activities. This doesn’t have to be a big section; it helps most that you do a few short, interactive activities throughout. Those activities can be anything from asking participants to “write down three examples of…” or “list your top 5 goals for the year” (or a subject relevant to the topic your workshop is on), or simply “listing 3 descriptive words about your favourite food in the chatbox, then put the words ‘I am’ at the beginning” (always a funny icebreaker!). This helps the participants instantly feel more connected to you and more likely to put into practice what they learn going forwards.
- Use breaks or breakout rooms to split the session into more digestible sections.
- Clearly define the next steps for your employees. No matter how great a workshop is, if there is no call to action at the end, the audience will leave feeling unsure how they can utilise the information or the guidance they have just absorbed. Be clear with your employees what the next steps after the training will be – this could be a group or one-to-one follow-ups, or further training sessions in the future.
Are you looking to branch out into online workshops? Virtual content has never been more popular, and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that people love to consume video content.
For more information on how we can help you deliver online learning, head to our website, which has plenty of blogs and free resources on virtual workshops and training.
About Excel Communications
LEARN, GROW, SUCCEED
Excel Communications is a learning and development consultancy based near London in the U.K. For more than 30 years; we have been collaborating with clients across the globe.
Partnering with Excel empowers you to evolve your people and business by fuelling a love for learning.
We work with you to create unforgettable, customised learning experiences to achieve your vision of success and growth, with tangible results. View our case studies here.
We have a team of expert trainers delivering programmes across five continents in multiple languages. Call us now on +44 (0) 1628 488 854.