Online Training During Quarantine: Some Tips

online presenting

The current situation with COVID-19 is forcing us to adapt and do things differently — in multiple ways. We may only have to change for now — but maybe longer. In any case, we should be prepared for any adjustments that may come our way.

The business landscape right now is strange. Many of my dealers have shut down. However, quite a few are still open, and they need me to meet their needs. They just need me to meet them … differently. One thing I still have to do is deliver training sessions. I just did a GoToMeeting with a new account last Friday. While the situation we’re all forced to deal with changes almost daily, I have more queued up in the coming weeks.

Online training isn’t new, obviously. We’ve all taken or presented webinars for years. It’s always been a valuable tool to bridge the distance; it’s just become much more front and center for me now. Since I’m looking for things to occupy my time — that got me thinking. I have been on the receiving end of countless vendor training sessions as an attendee; I have delivered just as many now as a presenter. Out of all of those training sessions, most were adequate, some were great, and some were not-so-great.

Even if you’re not renting a hotel conference room and paying for lunch, time is still money. You have things to do, and so do the people to which you are presenting. While presenting online isn’t so different from doing so in person, it’s worth giving serious thought to making your online presentations as effective and worthwhile as possible.

As a vendor representative, I’m mindful of this and put a lot of effort into making my presentations worthwhile.

Some Tips

My first suggestion: Have a point. If you’re going to put together a webinar, especially right now, I assume it’s because you have an excellent reason to. Keep that in mind, outline what your objective is, and focus on it.

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Organize your material. As obvious as this sounds, you need to have your presentation completely nailed down before subjecting an audience to it. Draft, redraft and redraft again. Edit it, and please spell check it, then have someone else on your team edit it and spell check it again.

Next up, practice your presentation. Work on your delivery. In some ways, presenting online is harder than in person in this regard, because you’ve only got your vocal talents (or lack thereof) to help get engagement with your materials from your attendees.

Familiarize yourself with the webinar technology you’re using. Whether it’s Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, or whatever, know where the buttons are on the dash and what they do.

Anticipate questions you’re going to receive from the attendees, and have your answers prepared. You’ve been in the business for a long time; you’re a subject matter expert (or at least I hope you are), so you should be able to see what questions will spring from the material.

Stay on point. I know we’re all feeling a little lonely and isolated right now, but everyone still has things to do. Present, make your point, field questions, and then end the session. At least for some of us, webinars that drag on and on are a special kind of torture.

Not long ago, I sat through a webinar as an attendee that should have been twenty minutes, tops. Instead, it dragged out past ninety. I’m not saying that experience drove me to write this column, but I do not deny it either.