While John Anderson, Hydrometallurgy Sales and Technical Account Manager, is no stranger to running face-to-face training sessions, he recently discovered that when it comes to adapting these sessions to an online format, a new set of skills is required. Here, John shares lessons he learnt from a recent training for Mining Solutions customers.
In any normal year, John Anderson leads many training sessions to showcase BASF Mining Solutions products to a range of audiences. “Our usual technical training sessions are usually to relatively small groups with plenty of opportunities for personal interaction,” John said. “Typically, we would have around 15 attendees, but the largest session I've done was for 250 process engineers, operators and supervisors. Due to the diverse backgrounds of attendees at our courses, we have a fair amount of divergence in the content as we get a lot of questions. We encourage this because it breaks up the very technical material and brings a bit of variety,” he explains.
Recently John faced a new challenge however when he had to adapt his normal presentation to an online training for BASF customers abroad. The purpose of the presentations was to help the customers gain a better understanding of BASF flocculant chemistry and applications, and to build BASF’s relationship and reputation for technical support and know-how.
Here John shares this top three lessons:
It’s much harder to assess audience engagement
Because you don’t have any of the usual eye contact or body language cues to indicate if you are getting through to the audience in a virtual training, John suggests paying extra attention to the questions that are asked. “The tell-tale sign that an audience understands what you’re saying and is interested in the content is the steady feed of questions coming in via the chat window,” he said. “It’s fairly clear that the training is well received, when the questions are intelligent and related to the content presented.”
The presenter has to work even harder online
“The online sessions are a little bit brutal for the presenter because you really can’t digress, you have to plan the training with greater accuracy for time, you need to keep it shorter and to the point because you can’t see if you are losing the audience,” explains John. To overcome this challenge John suggests stopping regularly to give the audience the opportunity to ask questions and having notes in the presenter view to keep you on track.
Teamwork makes the dream work
John reflects that it is also very helpful to have a contact person, whether a customer or a colleague, as a designated person to monitor the chat window for questions. “Anything that you can add in to break up the session helps to keep the audience fresh. The chat window to get questions and feedback in large online groups works really well,” he said.
Thank you to John for sharing his experience and top tips.