BORING! That’s the description I would give of most webinars or e-learning courses. The content is often tedious. The moderators like to impersonate Ben Stein’s vocal drone. And the slides decks are covered in text. What’s even the point of listening to a training if you could just read the slide deck?
But virtual trainings don’t have to be awful. In fact, they can be downright amazing. Seriously. I would not lie to you.
During GovLoop and GovDelivery’s recent online training, 11 Tips to Transform Your Virtual Training and Events, Andrew Krzmarzick and Jennifer Kaplan modeled a more effective approach to online training. (Link to the archived training and the slide deck.)
It may sound obvious, but the first step to creating an awesome virtual training is to perfect the content. Fortunately, Andrew Krzmarzick, Director of Learning and Development at GovLoop, has been perfecting online content for years.
Here are Andrew’s 6 tips for creating awesome content.
1. Don’t convert content 1:1
I know it is difficult, but as an online training implementer you can’t simply take an in-person course and put it online. The virtual medium is different and users interact with a virtual training much differently than an in-person training. It is hard to get adults to sit in front of a computer all day, especially when email is just a click stroke away. Content needs to be broken down into smaller and more manageable parts. As an implementer you need to design learning for the distracted learner.
2. Think of learning like LEGOs
LEGOs are building blocks. You can’t just build a house with one LEGO brick. To make a LEGO castle you need many different types of bricks. Learning is the exact same. In order for a true online leaning experience you need many different components that are all mapped to the same goal. People need to be able to interact with each other and the moderators. People need additional resources and then the actual webinar itself.
3. Engage early and often
No one wants to be called on in-class to answer a question from the professor. But that engagement is critically important for a learner. Often that engagement can go out the window in a virtual environment. You can’t let it! In an online training users need to be engaged every five to ten minutes. Moderators can use polls, ask questions or have a group chat. No one wants to be talked to for hours on end.
4. Be agile and flexible
Training shouldn’t be rigid. The best teachers adapt their curriculum to their students’ needs. Online training should do the same. Online training implementers need to sketch out a learning plan for an entire course, but they should sketch it with dotted lines. Flexibility allows trainings to be more personalized and useful for participants.
5. Listen to your learners
You don’t know what you don’t know. Are people happy with the training you are providing? Are they unclear and confused about the subject matter? You have to ask for feedback – and not just feedback at the end of the course. Feedback should be continuous.
6. Leverage diverse voices
There is no one expert. In order for a training to be inclusive and truly effective you need a diversity of voices. Moderators, subject matter experts, alumni shouldn’t all come from the same office. Branch out!
With Andrew’s help, you now know how to craft some awesome content for your webinar. But don’t forget: unless people show up, you have nothing.
Lucky for you, we have an expert in the field of growing an audience for virtual trainings. Jennifer Kaplan, Product Marketing Manager for GovDelivery, has been helping agencies put butts in the seats for years.
Jennifer’s five tips to get butts in the seats:
1. Build your audience
In order to get an audience to your trainings you have to be active. This is not a situation where if you build it, they will come. In fact, it’s the number of people you reach that makes your content effective. The first way to build your audience is start with your direct connections. Find out who is on your website regularly. Use web overlays to make signing up for trainings easy. GovDelivery found between a 200-500% increase in sign-ups from web overlays alone. But web overlays won’t solve all your attendance problems. You need to have many different sign up mediums. Social networks are a great place to spread the word.
2. Give an invite they can’t refuse
The average person gets more than a hundred emails a day. Your notification about a training has to stand out from the noise. If your email invite doesn’t work, your training doesn’t get noticed. So treat your subject line as a top priority. Your subject lines should only be about 50 characters. A cool way to get more information is to use pre-header text. This is the text that shows up on a mobile device right under the subject line. You can get in more information without having to lengthen the subject line. Finally, make sure your make the registration button big and clear.
3. Confirm and remind
Here is an unfortunate fact: just because someone signs up for a training doesn’t mean they will attend. You have to remind them and remind them often. One easy fix is to add a calendar invite along with their registration confirmation email. You can also send reminder emails the day of the training.
4. Follow up with resources
The training shouldn’t end when the webinar times out. People want to see an archive of the training or download the slides. One way to impress your users is to be proactive in getting them the information. Send a follow-up email with all the resources. In that follow-up note include a thank you, reinforce the value proposition and at the bottom ask people to sign up for ongoing information.
5. Continue the relationship
You have just trained an awesome new user. You don’t want that relationship to stop. You should try to get the users to download additional content. Newsletters, additional trainings, or surveys are just a few examples of content that keeps people engaged.
No one wants boring training and we hope that with these 11 tips we can once and for all end the perception that webinars have to be a snooze.
Click here for the full presentation and additional resources!