Prepping your online training: Top tips

Preparing for an online training session can take a lot longer than real life sessions: here's a handy list of things to consider when preparing for your online training.

This blog is part of a wider-series written by Bootcamp’s lead trainer, Nim Ralph, focused on how to run engaging online trainings in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. To see the other blogs in the series, scroll to the end of this post.

In my last blog, I looked at the different options and considerations you should make when picking which technology to use for your online training, with a focus on accessibility, affordability and product features. In this blog, I look at the preparation you should make before you start your online training – for yourself, your team and your participants.

In my experience prepping for online sessions takes a lot longer than in real life ones (read through the Building a container and Running an engaging training blogs for more information). Also if many of you are moving to online for the first time just the learning curve will take some time, so make sure you factor this in. 

Here’s a handy meeting prep checklist which I made for Campaign Bootcamp that you can make a copy of and use for your own sessions.

Outside, of the venue and physical set up there are 3 main things to think about when prepping in real life:

  1. Participants have the information they need to attend
  2. Your team is prepped, read and aware of its roles
  3. The practicalities of the training delivery are all ready; flipcharts written up, coffee break scheduled and so on

Here I’ve broken that down into the online equivalents:

1. Info for participants

  • Make sure they are emailed in advance (and called if necessary) to check in if they are attending, what tech they have available and what online access requirements they might have
  • One of the biggest things to remember about good accessibility practice is that people feeling prepared for knowing what will happen is a significant portion of enabling different types of people to attend. Ensure they have been given all the following information ahead of time, and in good time:
    • What to expect
    • All the links and info they need to join the session
    • How you are meeting their access requirements if they’ve flagged them
    • Details of any prep or pre-work they should do
  • Give them tips on how to maximise their participation on the call:
    • Find a quiet spot
    • Minimise distractions
    • Check your equipment is working ahead of time
    • Be on time
    • Give them any ‘how to’ briefing sheets they might need for the tech you are using
    • Depending on how unfamiliar they are with the tech, you might also want to offer a one-to-one phone call, or pre-session training on how to use the tech so that you can focus on the session content for the actual meeting/training/workshop

2. Your Team

If you are the only person on your team take a moment to check in that you are prepared:

  • What can you do to keep you focussed and happy — stretch before the call, re-read your notes, singalong to your favourite Disney tune, meditate…?
  • Find a spot you’ll be comfortable in for the call
  • Make sure you have plenty of fluids and snacks to hand
  • If you have the luxury – having a second screen with notes can be a really helpful tool — you can use it to keep your session plan on while you have the call going on the other screen, or to prevent you having to constantly switch between tabs of the different programmes running.
  • Make sure it’s quiet and calm where you are
  • Ensure that you are confident with the tech/platforms you are using — practice ahead of time
  • Check all your tech is working before the call start

If you have other folks working with you there’s a number of roles in an online training that will make your life a lot easier, and ask them to do the above checklist too!

  • Co-facilitator: to host some of the session so you can give each other a break. One of you could also be focussing on group dynamics while the other delivers contents.
  • Tech support: a person specifically appointed to resolve any tech issues that occur and/or support a participant one-on-one if they are having tech issues so that you can focus on the training
  • Remote participant support: if someone doesn’t have a laptop, or can’t access the google doc this person can help them still access the content by being on a call with them and “representing” them online
  • Note taker
  • Time keeper

3. Prepping the session resources

This takes a lot longer than in real life, read through the 3. Building the Container and 4. Running an engaging training blogs for more details and help on this, but here are some of the key considerations:

  • Depending on what you are running you will need slides, shared documents with correct permissions, session notes, spare slides to copy and paste quickly in case you change things as you go through
  • Some things online go much faster than irl (in real life), and some slower — you will learn this through practice, but try to take stock after each training or meeting you run and plan this into the next session.
  • Think about the 5 learning styles: how might you engage them all in your training? Drawing, stretching, dancing, music, film, typing, sharing photos and images. If you want to include things that people need materials to partake in, make sure you’ve notified them in advance.
  • People lose focus online and fast — how do you structure enough breaks (at least one every 90 mins!) and think about building off line work into the training
  • If online training is totally new to you, you might want to find friends or other trainers and facilitators who are happy to run practice sessions together so that you have a go before the meeting itself!

Read the other blogs in the series on online trainings here:

Click here for a downloadable PDF of the whole series

Previous & Next Articles

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Building trust in online trainings: Top tips

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Picking your tech for online trainings: Top tips

Zoom? Google Hangouts? Skype? How do you pick the right technology to host your online training? Bootcamp's lead trainer Nim shares their top tips below: