BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 23 MAR 2020



Two things are key when it comes to virtual training: top quality content and outstanding delivery. If you get them right it will save you money, instil behaviour change and stop the troops watching Bargain Hunt.

Both of these are important face-to-face to be sure, but essential when the delegates have Pringles in the cupboard and kids in the garden.

The technology works and is astonishingly easy to use. Last Tuesday, Michael was in Oban, the team were in Glasgow and I was on a train from London as Nicky delivered The Brilliance of Resilience from Tunbridge Wells. On Thursday, I was in the front room (Art Deco style, you will eventually see it) and the team were scattered to the four winds and it was smashing. On Friday I delivered my first Rainmaker Business Growth Workshop to eight consultants in as many locations.

Content needs to be immediately accessible to the delegates so they stay “in the room” by keeping them engaged. This is more than presentational; it is about agreeing specific and measurable outcomes before you start and relentlessly pursuing them during the session.

  • There is time for storytelling, every great facilitator has those, but the material must be immediately relevant.
  • Follow on materials must reinforce the learning and be readable, wide ranging and inspiring.
  • All media should be used, such as video and the like, but do not underestimate the power of the written word. Good quality blogs, learning materials and white papers should be integrated and useful.

Just as it is more challenging to kiss someone over the internet, this is the case when working with a group who are sitting at the breakfast bar watching the cat lick the plate your tuna sandwich was on. I was surprised how similar delivering over t’internet was to working in the room, but there is no question the facilitator has to work much harder in gaining rapport: there is no substitute for talent here.

Formats have to be tweaked, but again that is easy: a one day programme that is two 90 minute sessions either side of lunch becomes four one hour sessions with an hour break in between each. I can give you a dozen ways to set out a session in ten minutes.

  • Do not reinvent the wheel. It is as simple as shorter, more focussed sessions with longer breaks. Be creative in planning your sessions but a good facilitator can be creative in the moment, this is essential when you are online.
  • There are many ways to be good, but one way or anther pace and energy must be injected into a virtual session. A good facilitator will find that place.
  • Malcolm Gladwell says that 10,000 hours of practise are needed to become an expert. Just as a clarinettist playing jazz is not making it up as they go along, a good facilitator will know what the technology can do, but it is their ability to read the mood and adapt that is key.

The world is changing but I now know the technology exists to make what we do magical. The good news is I always knew humans had the smarts and the adaptability to make the whole darned thing work. Exciting times.