Never before have people appreciated in person training as much as they do now. It’s now been approximately six months since C19 covered us like a dark shadow. So much has changes and is changing in such a short amount of time. Unfortunately, we’re still in a situation in-person training is not an option for many. Virtual leadership development is still a requirement for most.
Some companies pivoted while other froze. There is not judgment here. These are unusual times which have created unusual outcomes. But in the end, most are now realizing that leadership development training needs to continue now more than ever.
Companies have also realized: Virtual Leadership Development training needs to be highly engaging, and highly applicable. Again, these needs are more important now than before. Virtual Training and development participants do not want to sit behind six hours or more of slides delivered virtually. This is where highly engaging training such as using business simulations in leadership development comes in. But in this article, the focus is not on leadership simulations alone. These tips can be applied to any virtual training. If you’ve been delivering virtual leadership development training, many of these will be familiar.
12 Tips To Delivering Virtual Leadership Development Training
- Everyone Gets Fatigued Far Faster- This one can’t be emphasized more. Your participants are going to get very tired very quickly. Oddly, people seem to get a lot more tired sitting behind their computer during training compared to in-person leadership development training. You need to adjust your timing and program delivery with the assumption the training participants will get fatigued faster.
- Everyone Will Be More Distracted- Let’s face it: Participants are working in their homes. In some cases, they are crammed into a corner of their bedroom. Kids will make noise, virtual school will require attention, a person rings the doorbell. There are an infinite depth of distractions. It is important to understand this, flex with it, and work with it.
- Participants Might Feel Cheated- Most leadership development programs are done in annual groups. Previous groups had the opportunity to meet in person, build relationships, and get hands on training in-person. As a result, this year’s virtual leadership development group might feel a little “cheated”. Simply be aware of this and remember they were probably looking forward to an in-person event.
- Technology Will Hiccup- I can pretty much promise you that someone will have technology challenges. It might be a microphone, camera, computer, internet connection, software version, or anything. Most leadership development training programs have about 25 participants. There is a lot that can go wrong. Be patient, flexible, and relax. It will all work out. But in the end, be ready for problems and stay resilient. Virtual leadership development is challenging.
- Everything Takes About 20% Longer- Let’s combine 1, 2, and 4. If we combine these tips alone, you’ll see things simply take longer. We’ve found that what used to take a day of leadership development simulation delivery now takes longer. No matter what you’re doing, add 20% more time to your estimate. People are distracted, distance teamwork takes longer, there are tech problems, and the list goes on. When planning your virtual leadership development training program, add more time.
- Be Forgiving Of Yourself- I’ll warn you now: You are going to be very very busy and get extremely tired. You need to be kind and forgiving of your “mistakes”. Virtual leadership development is extremely challenging compared to in-person. Delivering leadership development training was exhausting before. It’s more exhausting virtually. Give yourself a break and just laugh problems off. It will make for a better program for everyone.
- Plan To The Minute- You need to plan everything down to the minute ahead of time. Strangely, people don’t expect any air in your program. Otherwise, they are sitting and staring into a camera (at best). As a result, you are going to have to plan on planning everything for every moment. It is also important to remind participants of where they are in the day. In summary, time needs to be planned and controlled more carefully.
- Take Longer Breaks More Often- As suggested above, virtual leadership development participants get tired. They are also distracted. As a result, you need to plan on taking more breaks. Virtual training participants need these breaks. More breaks result in participants that are more engaged.
- Bring In An Executive Speaker (or two)- Bringing an executive speaker into a leadership development program is always hugely beneficial. Bringing an executive speaker into a virtual leadership development program is twice as beneficial. It also seems to be easier to schedule them (bonus!). Bringing executive speakers into your virtual leadership development program will be greatly appreciated and is a great way to break up the lessons.
- Facilitator Virtual Setup Is More Important Than You Think- As the facilitator of a virtual leadership development program, you unfortunately have the burden of being the leader. Part of this in today’s virtual training world is to take a few steps to make your setup look awesome. There have been a lot of video created about this. They are ok. USA Today wrote a simple article and produced a simple video that covers more than just camera placement. Have a look here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/04/11/zoom-meetings-go-better-these-6-tips-look-your-best/5125980002/– This will help and is worth the small financial and time investment.
- Stay Highly Resilient and Keep a Sense of Humor- This has been hinted at quite a bit. Virtual leadership development is tough! You are probably trying to teach corporate resilience. It’s time to practice what you teach. Stay flexible. We are not in an era of perfection. Stay flexible and most of all: Laugh! Laugh at yourself. As mentioned, this is not a time for perfection but a time for resilience and flexibility. If something doesn’t go right with your virtual leadership development program, just laugh and flex.
- You Absolutely Have To Have Hands-on Team Based Activities- Of course we are a little biased here, but this doesn’t make it untrue: You really have to have some sort of hand-on team based activity. Yes, we think leadership development simulations are awesome, but they are not required. Take time to think about team based hands-on activities teams can work on virtually. Again, business simulations are great for this (especially virtually) but are not required. There are tons of activities that do a great job.
It has been predicted that C19 mixed with an impressive run in the stock market and run up in real estate prices is going to dramatically accelerate the retirement of current management. This will put substantial pressure on companies to quickly accelerate highly applicable leadership development. Of course you know that leadership development business simulations are an excellent way to achieve this. But in reality, they aren’t always necessary. No matter the course you take, finding a way to offer most any hands-on/applied leadership development activities will go a long way.
Virtual Leadership Development training is a fantastic way to bring emerging leaders together in an effort to learn, share, and grow. Let’s not let C19 get in the way of this important corporate activity.