Commonwealth Financial Network: 9 Tips for Becoming a Virtual Training Virtuoso

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Take your virtual training to the next level with these nine simple tips.

Training is one of the many facets of work that has been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of gathering in conference rooms, we find ourselves in Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings. In this virtual environment, advisors everywhere have encountered new hurdles. One of the biggest is this: whether you’re educating clients, improving the skills of your team, or making an important presentation, how do you keep participants engaged and energy levels high when many are suffering from Zoom fatigue? The simple answer is you need to give energy to get it back, and we have the tips for doing just that—right from your computer.


1) Break the Ice

To get everyone on the same page, ask the group to stay off their phones and not check email or Teams messages. Then, to break the ice, engage in light, funny banter that gets people used to speaking and feeling more comfortable. This starts the class in a welcoming way and helps build a personal connection.

2) Use Your Voice as a Powerful Tool

Your voice is an effective way to convey your excitement—or lack thereof—in a virtual environment. Consider using varied highs and lows in your tone, and be demonstrative if you’re trying to convey a particularly important point. 

3) Give an Incentive for Responding

Five seconds of silence in a virtual setting can feel like an eternity. Let trainees know you’re okay with letting the uncomfortable quiet go on as long as it needs to. Because most people hate silence, this almost always prompts responses. If that doesn’t do it, try simplifying your questions and suggesting answers to keep the replies coming. If a question does get answered, give an enthusiastic response, such as “Boom! That’s right!” or “Fantastic answer!” 

4) Pay Attention to Their Faces

It can be tricky to notice if someone is multitasking when you’re not in the same room. So, pay attention to the faces in front of you. If you see a flickering light from a computer screen or someone seems to be typing, that’s a pretty solid clue they may be focused elsewhere. That’s a good time to pose a question to the group to see if you’ll get a reaction from those you suspect were reading email. A simple yes or no question can get the training back on track in no time.

5) Keep Moving

Although body language is diminished during a virtual presentation, it can still be effective. When soliciting answers, point to the person who has an answer and use their name. Yes, you’re really just pointing at your computer screen, but it’s a motion people are familiar with from live classes. If you get multiple people answering, know that (1) you have their attention and (2) you get to pick the order of answers while knowing the discussion is working. This validates what you’ve done so far.

6) Lean In

Lean toward your screen when someone is speaking—especially if it’s someone who doesn’t speak often. As with having face-to-face conversations in the physical world, leaning in helps the other person know you care about what’s being said. Be careful about leaning in too much, though—you don’t want to be a virtual close talker.

7) Practice

Teaching virtually can sometimes feel like you’re having a conversation with your computer. It’s a bit unusual, to say the least. But the more you practice, the more natural it will feel. Plus, the more comfortable and at ease you are, the higher your energy will be.

8) Check Your Lighting

You don’t want lighting behind you. It’ll create a shadowed appearance that will make you look less like a presenter and more like someone trying to keep their identity a secret. And never use side lighting—you’ll come off looking like Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein monster. Instead, always illuminate from the back of your computer or camera.

9) Have Fun with It!

You are driving the meeting, and everyone is following you. If all you’re giving them is bullet points and talking at them, their minds will drift right out of class. Balance fun with information. Lead by example and enjoy yourself. That feeling will be infectious.

Of course, becoming a virtual training virtuoso can take some time. Start by taking just one tip you read here and applying it to your next client or staff presentation. Once you get it down, try another. Before you know it, you’ll be teaching others how to do great presentations virtually.


This post originally appeared on Insights, a blog authored by subject-matter specialists at Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Mike Davis is a training specialist at Commonwealth Financial Network. He can be reached at [email protected].

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