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The Trainer’s Challenge: Making Your In-Person Content Great Online

We see clients all the time that run successful training businesses focused on very specific markets.  One of my clients works directly with sales teams.  He meets with teams in-person and coaches them on their sales processes. The goal is to improve sales.  He's been perfecting his in-person twelve week program for years.  It's been a proven program that works.

Another client travels the country presenting to rooms full of realtors.  For years he's been enhancing his material and has a very successful business aimed at helping realtors grow their sales.

These successful business owners face a new challenge.  Today people are looking for alternatives to in-person training.  Cost is one reason. An even bigger one is time out of the field.  If they are traveling for training, something else isn't getting done.  People want and often demand a more convenient option they can use when it's convenient for them.  It could be late at night or early in the morning around their "regular work hours."

The simple solution is to bring in a video crew to record your in-person training sessions and line the videos up in some organized way on a membership website. That keeps it protected so it's only available to paying members.  (Shameless plug: Click here to learn more about our Infusionsoft / Memberium membership site building practice.)

Let me introduce three very real challenges trainers must address in order for your in-person material to work online.

Challenge #1: Adapting In-Person Content So It Works

I've taught at the university level for years.  The typical format is:

  • 3 - 50 minutes sessions a week,
  • 2 - 1 and a half minute sessions a week,
  • 1 - 3 hour session a week

Except for the one 3 hour session, you start and end with no breaks.

In a typical one to three day training event, you break the day up into 4 or 5 sessions.  You schedule presentations with activities to enforce the learning.  You schedule in a break in between the sessions with a lunch break in the middle of the day.

In this setting, you have control of the students schedule and attention. You're going to have students distracted by their online devices, but they are there to learn.  You can assume they will stay engaged to some extent.

Peer pressure and common courtesy works to your benefit.  Someone may take a call during class, but they will typically get up and leave the room. Talking out of turn, distracting others, looking bored or sleeping in class is seen as a bad thing.   If you have good presentation skills, you can keep your students focused on you and your message.

You have none of this with your online course.   You may possibly have a very focused student that needs to learn your material badly and they commit to turning off:

  • their phone,
  • email,
  • Slack,
  • Hangout,
  • Facebook,
  • Linkedin,
  • Skype and
  • all the other tools meant to keep us hyper-connected.

You should assume these highly-motivated, highly-focused types will be the minority.

If you ask an online student to commit to a 30, 45 or 60 minute blocks of time and your video becomes boring to them, they quickly lose interest.  That when they are most likely to go for coffee, take a bathroom break or jump to something else.

Let me give you the scenario I know you'll face. I listen to a lot of training videos (only the audio) in my car.  I connect my phone to the car via Bluetooth. For this student, you lose visuals.  Unless it's a long drive, you lose a good amount of their attention too.

For your online course to work, you must design and adapt your in-person material to address this.

How can you do this?  As cool as video is, and I highly recommend video for online courses, many students need to read it too.  Many students like this.  Also remember that for many of your students, English is the language they choose for training, but it isn't their first or strongest language.  You can help by providing a transcript of each video lesson.  Students can then either read along, read the transcript instead of watching or read it again after viewing it.  Many will keep notes on the printed transcript if you make it available to them.

To help these distracted students, you should incorporate quizzing, interactive exercises or discussions with others in order to re-enforce the learning.  These would help these distracted learners confirm they have grasped the concepts or realize their unfocused ways are not working.

Challenge #2: Organizing Content for Online Learning

Top experts in the learning field recommend keeping your videos to under 15 minutes.  The thinking is a good video presentation should keep someone's attention for that long.

That's going to mean that you must cut up your in-person materials into bite-sized chunks.  You use it to highlight the learning objectives and review the resources that go along with each session.

We recommend organizing sessions within a course so they follow a consistent pattern.  For example, each session can consist of:

  • an introductory video,
  • a list of written objectives,
  • a longer video covering the topic more extensively,
  • a transcript of the videos,
  • additional resources, and
  • a comments sections where all students discuss and comment on that session's material.

They are many other setups and layouts that work.  This is just as example.

Using a consistent format like this sets your student's expectations so they'll know how a typical sessions is organized and how much time they should expect it will take to complete.

Challenge #3: Presenting In-Person vs. On Camera

Many people that present well in person don't do well on camera.  Presenting in front of an audience is a skill most of us develop over a lifetime.  From the time we were in school, we present in front of the class.  Many of us have taught a class or presented to small groups in a conference room.

Until recently, presenting on camera was NOT something many of us did.  Years into the future, today's kids will have those skills because we all have phones and webcams. Many of us have GoPro like video cameras and even cameras flying around on drones.  So we now have to acquire on camera presentation skills.

To some, presenting on camera comes naturally.  For most, it's a learned skill.  It's one you acquire by:

  • working with people that know video,
  • experimenting with simple presentations or
  • persistently doing it over and over again watching yourself in a do-it-yourself mode.

These are definitely challenges you need to address.  The average business owner with content they want to move online can tap into the many available resources and services available today.  Fortunately, compared to just a few years back, getting your in-person materials online is so affordable.  These challenges are worth taking on so you have another avenue for getting your valuable content out to a wider audience.

Hope this helps.