4 habits of participant-centered online trainers

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It’s not about us.

That can be such a hard concept to wrap our heads around! Especially when we’re leading a virtual training, and more pressing issues flood our minds…

Do I sound knowledgeable? Articulate? Am I looking at the camera enough? Do my slides look pretty? Is my ring light set on the right color temperature?

Don’t get me wrong. Those things matter! But they’re not the building blocks of an online training that keeps learners engaged, helps them retain the information, and equips them to apply it moving forward.

So what are some of those building blocks? Here are four to help get you started…

1. Focus on need-to-know content

How do you know if content is need-to-know?

It’s the info participants will need to use at least six times within the next 30 to 60 days in order to be successful at their job.

Nice-to-know content is still edifying, but not critical for success right away. They might need it in the next 60 to 90 days.

Where-to-go content could be various other resources that learners can check out, such as other webinars, books, policy manuals, etc.

Plus, focusing on teaching only the need-to-know content gives you more time to incorporate interactive activities that engage learners!

2. Get learners to be active, not passive

You know the difference when you see it.

Passive learning environments involve a lot of lecture, with participants idly sitting and (maybe) consuming the information.

Active learning environments involve, well, the participants. Learners are regularly writing, talking and doing, and constantly pondering the question, “How can I adapt, adopt, and apply this content?”

3. Empower your learners

We all have control issues.

Being an instructor-led participant-centered trainer (ILPC) is about giving up control.

When we help our learners feel in control, they also feel included and become open to learning.

But in order for us to help them feel in control, we need to give them choices!

This could be as simple as allowing them to choose whether they type on the screen or text chat. Inviting them to stand up and flag the workbook pages that most interest them. Vote on which items on the classroom agenda they want to spend the most time on, etc.

4. Put up an ask-it basket during breaks

Sometimes it’s scary for a participant to ask a question.

They don’t want to feel like they’re interrupting the webinar, or they don’t want to risk sounding silly. That’s where the ask-it basket comes in.

During break times, put up a screen with a basket on it and blank space for participants to type on the screen. Make sure you set your annotation tool to hide the names of annotators. That way, learners can type questions on the screen anonymously during break, and you can take a couple minutes to answer those questions after break.

You’ll get much more honest questions, and you’ll get a great idea of the biggest needs of your learners, so that you can adjust your upcoming content accordingly.

Be sure to keep an eye out for other blogs in this series, giving you even more ways to keep your online learners engaged!

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