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Talis Aspire

10 tips for holding engaging training sessions online

Emma Dodd
Shift to Online

Every one of us has spent the recent months in online meetings, webinars, coffee breaks etc. and without the great tools that are available to us, this would not have been possible. 

Some of you will also have been grappling with the idea of online training and how to deliver training sessions that were previously face to face.

During the rapid shift to online, we have heard many stories of staff requiring fast onboarding, or refresher training to ensure they were prepared. This included onboarding academics in 24 hours at the University of Lincoln on Talis Elevate, and a review of all processes to support resources being as visible as possible at the University of Sussex with Talis Aspire.

Previously, sessions may have been held face to face to engage with your attendees, enable you to read the room and train using a variety of learning styles to keep your audience’s interest. 

Translating the feeling of a face to face session online can be tricky. At Talis we are experienced in holding remote training sessions and have adapted both our Implementation training and our Business Process Reviews, see our previous blog post on this here, to be delivered online.

Here, we have put together ten tips for moving training online: 


1. Select a tool that works for you 

There are some great tools that you can use to get started to host your sessions. Not sure which ones to use? We have listed some useful ones below:

  • Google Hangouts meet – allows for recording, video and screen sharing. Easy to use and anyone can connect with a simple URL invite.. Chat feature during the session which is also recorded. (Note the recording link is only emailed to the organiser. )
  • MS Teams  – Replaces Skype for Business Online as Microsoft’s online meeting solution. This has become a popular tool to use for remote working, screen sharing and communications. 
  • Zoom has been very popular in recent months, both for business and socially, including a chat feature.  Zoom have also developed resources to help during the COVID-19 pandemic you can access here.

Ensure you log on in good time and practise using the tool before hosting your session to give you more confidence and allow any technical issues to be resolved. 


2. Share the agenda in advance 

By sharing your agenda, and asking for questions in advance, your audience will be more engaged knowing they are attending the correct session as well as giving you an opportunity to prepare appropriately.

You may wish to use a tool such as Google Forms or Typeform to help ask these questions, for a list of other tools see point 6.  


3. Plan your delivery to your audience 

It is important to match your tone and pace to the experience level and background of your attendees. You also need to plan and allow for different skills, if this is an active session on a system such as Talis Aspire, going slow to allow them to follow along will really help them engage more and keep with the pace of the session.  

Having anecdotal examples from peers, perhaps from other academics, for example, will help make the content relatable. Do you have a success story from your institution on what you are training on you can include?  Regardless of the time, don’t rush through the content, as you will lose their attention.


4. Introduction 

Ensure you deliver a clear introduction, including your aims for the session. Where possible, have your video switched on during the more ‘conversational’ parts. This adds a personal touch and could encourage more interaction.


5. Demonstration 

Keep any screen sharing demonstrations short and include pause points for the audience to ask questions and allow them time to practice any new software you are training on, as you would in a face to face session.  

If your demonstrations are complex, to support you in sharing this live, consider pre-recording the demonstration where you can play this during your online training session, with you working through the narrative, to take the pressure off and one less aspect to think about! 


6. How to enable discussion 

There are many useful tools you could add to your session to engage the audience. Posing questions ahead of, or during the session to the audience to engage with can be useful and prompt discussion. Here are some tools we have used but there are many more: 


  • Trello – this is a free tool which is based on boards. Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organise and prioritise discussions in a fun and flexible way.
  • Shared documents such as Google Docs 
  • Mentimeter – enables you to gather real-time input from remote teams and online students with live polls, quizzes, word clouds and question and answers. 
  •  Poll Everywhere Host interactive remote meetings and capture feedback during virtual meetings and training sessions. 

See an example here of a reflections word cloud on Mentimeter: 

7. Stick to timing 

Practice your session and demo to help you keep to timing, your audience will lose interest if your session runs over, it may be that they have other meetings to get to or have planned for a break.

If you do find your content is over the time you allocated, reassure your attendees this can be picked up in future sessions or by way of a follow-up. 


8. Opportunity for questions 

To ensure attendees are engaged and feel supported make the opportunity to allow them to have time to ask questions and have them answered. It’s best to set out from the start when and how and when you would like questions to be asked. Is it via a chat feature? Or do you want participants to unmute to ask questions or a mixture of both to suit the attendees? Will you establish pause points as you go for questions, or would you like participants to interject as you go?


9. Feedback 

It is also important to get feedback to find out if your online session worked for your audience. Ask them to give you their honest opinion about what worked for them, and what did not, and use this to help plan your future sessions. Tools such as SurveyMonkey or Typeform have free account options for post-training surveys. 


10. Follow ups 

To continue the positive engagement and momentum from your online session, ensure there are clear follow-ups which are acted on timely. Examples of these could include: 

  • Sharing the recording of the session with attendees and those who could not attend 
  • Sharing a PDF copy of the slides used (ensuring presenter notes are not visible) 
  • Supporting materials, such as a lib guides or resource you have referred to in the session 
  • Answer any questions which were asked you may not have been able to answer or ran out of time for during the session
  • Providing your contact information for any other questions 
  • Directing your audience to future sessions or where they can go for support 


We hope you have found these hints and tips useful, we would love to hear from you on how you have been delivering online training. We are always on the lookout for ways to support our community, so if you have any suggestions or best practice you would like to share with our wider community, do let us know. 

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