employee on virtual video call

Staff training is integral to fueling growth and purpose among members of the workforce, and eighty-one percent of training and development departments embrace a people-centric culture.

However, as more companies and industries move to flexible work environments and hybrid schedules, business professionals have shifted how they approach workforce training.

These changes include:

  • User increase on education platforms. For example, LinkedIn Learning experienced a 46% increase in time spent on learning by its enterprise learners.
  • A 3,000% rise in virtual collaboration.
  • 346% rise in the number of course recommendations given to staff members.

Rather than attending training events in the office, training center, or hotel, team members are instead getting their learning and training experiences virtually.

Knowing how to make virtual training more engaging is crucial to meet the needs of the workforce. With virtual training front and center, business leaders must find strategic ways to spark community and engagement in their learning programs. This actionable guide will demonstrate how you can engage your team.

7 Ways to Drive Engagement in Virtual Training

Beyond improving workplace interactions, engagement drives bottom-line results. Companies with engaged team members outperform their counterparts by 147% in earnings per share.

Drive engagement in your upcoming virtual training with these seven virtual training facilitation best practices.

1. Offer Diverse Learning Experiences

Every team member has specific strengths and dispositions. Individuals thrive in various learning environments and respond differently to different learning experiences.

Offer your learners as much variability and variety as possible. Empathize with the experience from their perspective to direct the design of the experience and make the most impactful changes.

Examples of variety in virtual learning may include using:

  • Real-time polls and quizzes in which team members can participate during training. You can anonymize these tools to gain more honest responses and spark more meaningful conversations. If individuals hesitate to provide input in face-to-face settings, they may feel more comfortable doing so in a digital and anonymous context.
  • Chat features on your video platform. This feature is a convenient way for those who may not feel comfortable speaking to still be involved with the discussion
    and activity.
  • Interactive presentation software rather than static PowerPoint presentations. For example, Mentimeter allows professionals to incorporate dynamic word
    clouds, entertaining quizzes, and more to build a fulfilling and interactive experience.

2. Set Clear Expectations Up Front

Advise learners on what to expect during the training. Establish the right tone and help individuals prepare to participate and engage.

How to Set Clear Expectations

Send an email reminder before the virtual training that will provide details on what the training will entail and how participants should prepare.
Examples of expectations include the following:

  • Turning off notifications on devices
  • Closing other applications on their browser
  • Turning on their cameras
  • Coming prepared with questions

employee on virtual video call

3. Tap Into Gamification Elements

Gamification adds experiential learning components to virtual training. The process shows promise in cultivating a positive learning or training experience. Here are the statistics:

  • 80% of workforce members believe game-based learning is more engaging.
  • Gamification produces a 60% increase in workforce engagement because when learning is exciting and interactive, employees are motivated to continue working on the activity and performing at their best.
  • Gamification can drive up to a 50% increase in staff productivity as they engage in the game of work.

How to Implement Gamification Elements

When it comes to the concept of gamification, stat out simple. Identify ways to insert it into your existing virtual training process.

Here are a few examples of real-life organizations that leverage gamification for virtual training methods:

  • Manufacturing company Siemens created a storyline and game around a character named “Pete the Plant Manager.” The intention is to train team members on best practices for plant operations. This game introduces a challenge, and Pete offers hints to guide users to a solution.
  • Cisco’s Social Media Training Program entails three levels of certification— specialist, strategist, and master. Advancing to new levels requires virtual
    learners to complete a specified number of courses that show their expertise. The program also incorporates team challenges where players can earn badges.
  • IBM’s Digital Badge Program incorporated gamification through badges or learner achievements. These badges were incentives to encourage engagement. In the end, 87% of IBM badge earners say they’re more engaged due to the program. The business further incentivized learners by allowing them to post their badges on social media.

4. Stick to Simple and Consistent Multimedia Tools

Refrain from making the virtual environment too scattered or complex. Juggling too many multimedia elements may confuse participants. Lean on simplicity to create a more enjoyable learning experience.

How to Execute Simplicity and Consistency

To start, consider focusing on two primary tools. Here are some examples:

  • A video conference platform like Zoom. This platform offers a chat feature so staff members don’t have to jump to another platform to interact with colleagues, break out rooms so participants can discuss content in smaller groups, and annotation features so that every member in the meeting can interact with the presentation. Zoom offers all of the diverse learning experiences mentioned above in tip 1.
  • A learning management system (LMS) where team members can submit assignments and gain feedback from trainers. Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted LMS to manage and organize the learning and development plans for employees.

Begin with these two tools and over time, as demands shift and you acquire feedback, add additional tools or replace them.

5. Plan Around Limitations

Remember that virtual learning, whether it be digital on-demand courses on an eLearning platform or video conferencing workshops, cannot foster community independently.

Some limitations are:

  • Technology and compatibility issues
  • Bandwidth and speed issues
  • The ability for participants to turn off their cameras and disengage
  • The difficulty of interactions as people talk over each other and computer systems buffer
  • The physical distance inherent with virtual learning
  • Acknowledging this and planning for virtual training limitations is crucial.

How to Proactively Plan Around Limitations

Business leaders must adequately plan and prepare the right supplementary touchpoints to ensure that virtual learning is successful. These contact points should occur before or after the training.

Touchpoints may entail conversations and activities such as:

  • Small group sessions – When training ends, virtual breakout rooms can discuss key takeaways and how team members plan to apply those to their roles.
  • Pre-training worksheet completion – This activity enables individuals to come to the training prepared and ready to participate.
  • Follow-up – Distribute information and answers to points discussed during the virtual training.
  • Virtual icebreakers – Build participant connection before diving into the training.

Providing these touchpoints injects virtual training with the holistic attention and community spirit they deserve.

6. Refrain from Long Virtual Sessions

You may have the best creative virtual training idea, but these good intentions can backfire if the session runs too long, or if participants find it difficult to focus and engage.

How to Be More Conscientious of Time

Refrain from hosting virtual training that runs longer than 2 hours. The average human attention span is 8.25 seconds, and this statistic is 4.25 seconds less than it was in 2000. Your participants’ attention spans are incredibly limited, so aim to simplify and diversify content to inject training with efficiency and variety.

Consider the participants’ schedules as well when organizing training time frames.

Someone with back-to-back meetings on a particular day may not feel compelled to participate or stay focused during training.

7. Adjust and Repeat

Virtual learning takes time to succeed. Finding a pattern that works takes experimentation, iteration, and patience.

How to Adjust and Repeat the Right Way

Solicit feedback from the team. Feedback can be through individual conversations or quick workshop evaluations and surveys.

Consider asking for suggestions on how to apply specific feedback. Doing this provides three benefits:

  • It makes implementing feedback quicker.
  • It enables changes that set up staff members for success.
  • It helps you create a robust training session participants will value and enjoy.

Lean on CMOE’s Virtual Learning Resources

With virtual training demand growing, business leaders must quickly adapt to these shifts, all while keeping workforce members engaged.

Lean on CMOE’s virtual courses and digital learning solutions to help your team develop critical skills and leader competencies. Our courses cover many business topics, from Coaching to Strategic thinking. Each comes with relevant resources and downloadable tools.

Contact CMOE today to learn more!

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About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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