With the increasingly remote nature of PMOs and project stakeholders, many teams are turning to webinars for project management training. It’s a medium that can be highly effective if used correctly. Below are tips to help your PMO boost engagement and get the most out of online training.
Provide a comprehensive agenda. Project team members are likely to be more energetic about their participation and to come prepared with thoughtful questions if they have a good idea ahead of time what to expect. It’s also wise to offer attendees a schedule for the day’s activities so they can plan their break time efficiently.
Give participants time to prepare. Be sure you provide team members with all the information they’ll need to participate, including any applications they may need to download to their device plus phone numbers and URLs they can use to access the event. This is also the time to let participants know if there’s any specific hardware (headsets, etc.) they’ll want to have ready.
Send reminders. Life is busy, so don’t leave things to chance. Schedule a couple of reminders to be sent out, including one the morning of the event. It’s a subtle but effective way to prompt everyone to join on time and to encourage them to remain engaged rather than be distracted by other pressing tasks.
Encourage questions. Rather than the conventional Q&A-at-the-end structure, set aside several segments throughout the event where participants can ask questions or discuss particular points in greater depth. This often helps overcome the disconnect that can occur when an instructor isn’t able to read attendees’ body language and see there may be lingering questions. Some leaders also find it useful to solicit questions before training begins so they can tailor sessions to meet the needs of each group.
Use a platform that allows multiple ways to communicate. Inherent in the remote worker environment is the need to be flexible. Look for a solution that can support both audio and video connections, and enables participants to ask questions via keyboard as well as voice.
Make the most of every device. Evaluate if the platform you plan to use will be able to accommodate smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even plain landline phones. Consider how (or if) drawings and other items requiring large screens will function on smaller devices.
Make materials available afterward. Transcripts, audio and video recordings, and presentation slides should be provided to participants once the training is done. This gives them an opportunity to review the information for better retention and also sync up the notes they took during class. In some cases, it may be useful to send some of these materials out ahead of time along with the agenda.
Use a facilitator. The instructor has enough to focus on during training. A facilitator can offer the support needed—addressing technical issues, monitoring the flow of questions and sidebar discussions, etc.—to allow the event’s leader to put their energy into educating your team.
Right-size the group. Carefully evaluate how many attendees make sense for each training session. Consider the subject matter, the type of webinar platform you’ll be using (some accommodate large groups better than others), even the personalities of the team members you plan to include.
Follow up. A brief check-in a few days after the event gives attendees a chance to ask any questions that may have come up after reviewing their notes.
Gather feedback. Your team’s opinion of the project management training—how the webinar format worked, the clarity of the information conveyed—will be crucial in crafting future sessions. Use their input to make the process better every time.