As employees have started trickling back into the office, hybrid training is becoming the norm. Hybrid training refers to training where some portion of the learners are together in person and others are attending virtually. It poses a unique set of nuances and challenges, both for trainers and attendees. In delivering training for clients across the globe, learning and development (L&D) leaders have found a core set of best practices that boost effectiveness and engagement across all hybrid training scenarios.

Plan How You’ll Maintain Engagement

It takes a bit of extra planning and effort to ensure you keep everyone, both those in person and those attending remotely, engaged in a hybrid training session. It starts by making sure the focus, literally and figuratively, is on you with connective eye contact. Look the camera “in the eye” for two-to-five seconds when you look around the room, just as you do with the in-room participants.

Consider moving about the room, if possible. This is one of the best ways to keep attention on you in a very natural way. Moving also helps you avoid some of the pitfalls inherent in trying to stand in one place for a period of time: fatigue, unconscious swaying, shifting of weight, fidgeting, etc.

Call on participants by name to keep them engaged. When you do, pause longer than usual so you don’t accidentally speak over them. This can be easy to do with audio lags and internet delays. Make sure you check in frequently, asking remote attendees about your pace and volume and whether they can see the visuals or have any questions or comments. When you do call on an attendee, say their name at the beginning of your comment or question. This will tee them up to answer. It also lets everyone know that this will be an interactive training and they’ll need to stay tuned in and be ready to answer when it’s their turn. Keep track of how often each person contributes so you can call on those who haven’t said as much.

Establish Etiquette and Rules of Engagement

At the very beginning of the meeting, tell participants how you’d like them to connect with you and engage with one another. Should they verbally share their insights and ideas or use virtual tools? Is it the same for in-person participants as for those attending virtually? When they do speak, request that they start by stating their name each time. If relevant side conversations happen, recap the key points so that everyone in the room and attending virtually can hear.

Practice

This point can’t be emphasized enough. You’ll want to practice in the room you’ll be presenting in, with the specific platform and other technology that you’ll be relying on. Though no one likes to watch themselves, recording yourself doing a run-through will give you invaluable feedback on how you’re coming across and what you might consider reworking or reorienting. You’ll want to pay particular attention to:

  • Your content: Simplify slides and key points and really get to know your content intimately from beginning to end. This frees you up to focus on your delivery and participant engagement.
  • Microphones: How is the sound? Do you need to add additional microphones to be heard clearly as you move throughout the room?
  • Cameras: Can virtual attendees see in-the-room attendees and vice-versa? How far can you move and still be seen? Where do you need to look to make eye contact with the remote audience?
  • Visuals: Can all participants see your presentation’s visual elements (i.e., slides, the whiteboard, etc.)?
  • Additional tools: Are you using collaboration tools, displays or other technologies?

Hybrid training is here, and it’s here to stay. By focusing on a few key changes in your setup, delivery and practice until you’re comfortable with your presence and content, you and your team can deliver training that’s engaging, impactful and, most importantly, memorable, in this new mode. The efforts you make will pay dividends, in both the real-time experience for your learners and the long-term retention and application of the material.

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