While facilitating in a virtual classroom environment can be similar to delivering training in a live classroom, they are definitely two different “animals”. Even the most astute traditional facilitator needs to be aware of the latest technology tools and best practices available to create an engaging virtual learning environment.

The world has completely changed as it pertains to learning and development. Being up to speed on how to deliver the most effective virtual learning programs can differentiate your organization and ensure your financial professionals continue to receive the same top-shelf learning experiences.

Top 10 Best Practices for Creating a Successful Virtual Classroom Experience:

1. Know the technology – To be a successful virtual trainer, you must learn the basics about the technology you’re using. You need to know how to use the audio in the virtual classroom, advance the slides and read comments in the chatbox, for starters. The more you know about technology, the more comfortable you’ll be in the virtual classroom.

2. Have a dress rehearsal – Broadway shows and other live performances hold dress rehearsals, and so should your virtual training event. For the first couple of times, you deliver each class, plan to walk through it in full as if you were delivering it. Your producer or any co-facilitators should also participate just as they would during the live training event. If your training is 90-minutes long, you would have at least a 90-minute rehearsal.

3. Log in early – Logging in 15-20 minutes before the session starts will give you time to test your audio and reacquaint yourself with the platform-tools. Check that there isn’t unnecessary feedback coming from microphones. Greet all participants as they enter the virtual classroom and instruct them to take advantage of your pre-session activity. quality of the presentation, which will be of benefit for those attending live and those watching the recording post-training.

4. Involve participants – Involve participants early and often. When the training isn’t face-to-face, the trainer is competing for attention with everything else going on around the participant and on their screen. As a rule, try to involve participants every four minutes. Be sure to involve ALL participants. Call on people directly who haven’t contributed, be sure all participants have a chance to contribute. You can use such tools as text chat, online breakout rooms, shared whiteboard, polls, and more to create engagement.

5. Prepare your participants – Use these tips to help prepare your participant for success.

Technical Needs:

• Strong (wired) Internet connection<
• Reliable computer or laptop<
• Hands-free headset (not a speakerphone)
• Software for virtual classroom platform

Other Needs:

• Find a quiet space to focus and learn.
• Set your devices to “do not disturb” mode (hang sign on door if needed).
• Put away distractions (including “to-do” lists that are in view).
• Closeout of email and other browser windows.
• Test your internet connection using the provided link at least 24 hours prior to class start time.

Learn More About Best Practices for Facilitating Virtually

Sarah Sears
AVP, Product Innovation & Development, LIMRA’s Talent Solutions Group

Sarah is responsible for the strategic guidance of the development and management of products. In her role, she translates research insights into solutions that improve the effectiveness and productivity of sales professionals, leaders and employees in the financial services industry. Throughout her 14 years at LIMRA, she has developed engaging, innovative solutions that make industry research accessible and actionable. Sarah earned a BA in Anthropology and Sociology-based Human Relations from Connecticut College and an MBA from the UMass Isenberg School.

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