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Virtual Training has become an increasingly necessary part of every organisation’s employee training and development strategy, especially now because of the social distancing norms. In such an environment, it is important to carefully visualise the virtual training structure in order to avoid making any mistakes that could either prove to be expensive or render the training futile. Virtual training has the drawback of not having a captive audience, instead, the audience is more tempted to tune out due to the various distractions they are exposed to. Oftentimes, in an effort to get the virtual training program started, organisations fail to identify basic drawbacks that may negatively impact the training. Three major drawbacks that must be avoided are listed below.

DRAWBACK 1: NOT TRAINING THE TRAINER

The shift from classroom Instructor Led Training (ILT) to virtual training is not a challenge just for employees but is also difficult for the trainers. Trainers are used to delivering their course content in a physical classroom utilising the powers of body language, movement, and audience interaction to make a session interesting and fulfilling for all involved. However, during virtual training, interaction becomes difficult as very often employees keep their videos switched off, there are background disturbances, technical issues and most importantly the trainer cannot make effective use of body language. Therefore, it is extremely important to train the trainer to conduct virtual training and prepare them for instructing in a virtual environment.

DRAWBACK 2: NOT CHANGING THE METHOD OF TRAINING DELIVERY

As the location of instruction changes from a physical classroom to a virtual window, the method of delivering the training also must change. When training goes online, trainers must account for new difficulties they will be faced with. They need to make content more engaging by adding extra visual aids, include storytelling, experience sharing, add illustrative examples and include interesting videos. These are just a few ways in which trainers can adapt their content and delivery for an online class. Trainers have to work hard to gain, and even harder to retain, the attention of the employees being trained. Therefore, along with the change in medium of instruction, the method of instruction delivery also must change as they adapt to the new medium.

DRAWBACK 3: NOT CREATING A PROVISION FOR AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

It is difficult to gauge audience reaction and levels of interest while conducting online training. In order to avoid the risk of training becoming a one-way session, trainers need to check in with the participants and get them talking as well. Virtual training delivery mediums usually have provisions for participants to virtually raise their hand or chat with the trainer and other participants. The trainer has to capitalise on this to encourage debate between the participants to avoid the risk of isolating the participants from each other. It could also help if trainers accommodate a specific amount of time just for debates and peer interaction. This also serves as a great way to bring in fresh perspectives and encourage learning from peers, thereby, making everyone feel involved and inspired.

The above listed drawbacks are three of the most common mistakes that organisations are prone to make while designing an effective virtual training strategy. Since most times participants cannot see each other in the way they would during a classroom training, it becomes the trainer’s job to encourage interaction. A trainer will also need to have exceptional qualities such as empathy, patience, perseverance and diligence to conduct online trainings, as they will have to deal with a variety of issues ranging from technical difficulties to constant background disturbances. Organisations that account for all these kinds of drawbacks, and more, will most definitely succeed in creating an effective and engaging virtual training experience for their employees.