“Helllloooo…can anybody hear me?  Hellooooo?  Is anyone there?”  Training remotely can be a lonely endeavor.  You’re home, the audience is home, and it frequently isn’t clear if anyone is listening, much less actually learning.   

As the world has shut down from the COVID crisis, remote training is becoming more and more of a reality.  No matter how big of a challenge remote training is, the training doesn’t have to be bad.  

Remote training takes place online.  Some of it will be live via webinar software, some will be via eLearning platform, and some will be via recording.  No matter what type of system you’re using, there are ways to make it engaging.   

Too many training sessions begin and end with legalistic PowerPoints in ten-point font which are read out loud to an audience who can see exactly what is going to be said next.  Instead of going through the same tired exercises, try some of these techniques:  

Start Strong

Instead of welcoming everyone to the training and showing an agenda slide, surprise people.  For instance, you can:

Launch Straight into a Story

Try launching immediately into a juicy scandal involving the compliance topic on which you are training.  For instance, if you’re giving antitrust training, make your first slide a picture of a tuna fish and launch into the story of Starkist’s $100 million price-fixing prosecution.  Add puns for additional pizazz.  Describing how the price-fixing scam went (tuna) belly up can entertain even the most jaded listeners.

Put up a Visual Puzzle

Start with a visual puzzle. Continuing with our antitrust training example, you could open with a slide that looks like this:


Territory splitting.jpg

Then say, “you’re at the annual trade association at dinner with your friends at (insert name of a competitor).  What’s wrong with this picture?”  [answer – territory splitting is illegal.  It appears from the picture that the competitors might be splitting territories between the companies.]

By engaging people with a puzzle or visuals that don’t immediately make sense, you’ll bring them into the training session and pique their curiosity about what comes next.

Start with a Game or a Winner

Try opening with a game or competition.  Perhaps you can send a photograph before the training session and ask people to write out all of the red flags they see in the picture, then send the answers back to you.  You could reveal the fifth place, then fourth, then third, then second, then first place winner throughout the training.  This can keep people’s attention as you explain the red flags in the picture.

An alternative is to competitively test people in using compliance-related processes.  For instance, you could send out a fake entry to the Gifts and Hospitality Register, then the first person to correctly input the entry into the register wins a prize or is simply named the winner. 

By bringing people into a competition, you immediately engage their minds, which will prime them to listen further.

Mix Up Your Strategies

Many different styles of training can be given.  By mixing up modalities, you engage the curiosity of your employees.  They’ll wonder what comes next, which will keep them engaged. 

Use Multiple Delivery Methods

Use multiple platforms for delivery, including eLearning as well as in-person training via Zoom/Skype/Teams.  Whenever possible, require attendees to be on-camera.  This will encourage them to pay attention and to engage with the content and others in the training session. 

You can also deliver training through your LMS system, on the intranet, and on any social media platforms used within your company.

Microlearning

Microlearning refers to short burst learning, usually one to ten minutes long, that reinforces specific points or processes that you want to emphasize.  When employing microlearning, ensure that the content is tailored to one or two ideas.  Microlearning tends to be delivered in eLearning format, or via video posted to either your LMS or intranet system.  Cartoons and cartoon drawings can be especially effective for microlearning delivery.

Gamification

The previous section notes two potential games that can be played via webinar.  Many online learning platforms include gamification as part of the offering.  Competitions for high scores, with leader boards posted online or in the office, can create a friendly competition that makes people more engaged.  One of our clients at Spark Compliance Consulting even created an online game during their compliance and ethics week, with compliance and ethics-related questions, which resulted in several winners who were recognized on the company intranet. 

Another idea is to mimic whatever game shows are popular or well known in your country.  Some companies mix up pop culture questions with compliance and ethics-related questions for even more fun.

Working in Groups

Can you work in groups remotely?  Sure.  If you’re working in groups remotely, try to have small groups (no more than six) working together using a platform like Zoom.  More than six people in a group becomes frustrating for everyone, as people will end up talking over each other constantly.  If you’ve got more than six people, try handing out multiple meeting IDs and having people break into smaller groups with a compliance coordinator or meeting lead guiding the discussion, then come back to the larger group on the main meeting ID. 

What should the group do?  Try amalgamating several real investigations you’ve had at the company and have the group answer questions about what they would do if they found themselves in the situation.  The use of real events at your company will drive home the point that these problems are real and have happened to fellow employees.  Of course, you want to amalgamate the cases to protect confidentiality.  Still, the fact that the events are real will drive engagement, as well as discussion.

Multi-disciplined Training

We in compliance know that when someone comes in with an issue for investigation, it usually isn’t a single cut-and-dried topic.  For instance, many bribery issues also involve fraud.  Antitrust and privacy issues may spill into HR topics as well.  Instead of focusing solely on one topic in a training session, bring in multiple compliance issues.  Adults are used to analyzing complex situations.  If you set out a scenario and ask them to identify all the compliance-related red flags, they will be more engaged than if you simply tell them about the law. 

Use Case Studies from Outside your Company

People are fascinated when things go wrong for others.  Whether its schadenfreude or the natural human instinct to slow down to look at a car accident, seeing what has gone wrong for others is inherently interesting.  When you’re reading the news, print out or keep a list of links to compliance-related prosecutions or public-relations nightmares that have a compliance-related element. Consumer-facing brands and famous names are always best, as people will relate to those stories more easily. 

One way to use case studies is to begin by revealing details of the scandal without naming the company, then ask if anyone can guess the company’s name.  Once you’ve revealed the company with the scandal, ask how the types of issues involved in the scandal could come up at your company.  Ask for examples of times when the same types of behavior could occur.  Try to bring the discussion back to your company’s values and how they relate to the scandal-ridden brand’s malfeasance.

Surveys and Polling

You can send a survey about your topic beforehand to people who will be trained.  Ask about their experience of the company, it’s culture, or their exposure to various topics, then show the results of the survey during your training.  Ask people to discuss what can be done to reduce risk around compliance-related topics. 

You can also use polling software to anonymously poll those in your training session.  It can be enlightening and engaging to see other’s answers and the trends that come up from the polls you take.  You can use the information from the polls and surveys to inform your culture analysis and even for reports to management.

Tools

There are tools available to make training better, and many of them are free. 

Conferencing Software

We’re all familiar at this point with Teams, Zoom, Skype, Go to Webinar, etc.  These resources allow people to interact face-to-face, even remotely.  They also allow for screen-sharing to present slides.  Most also allow for recording, which can save you time if you’re presenting a webinar-style training without too many interactive elements.

Slide and Video Tools

Canva is a terrific tool for creating social media post graphics, finding relevant photographs, and designing slides, as is Design Wizard.  There is a free version and a paid version.  The materials are very useful, the layouts completely professional, and the photos free from copyright issues.

Toonly and Biteable can both make cartoons inexpensively and easily.  Cartoons can be a quick way to tell a story or reinforce important concepts.

If you want to record your screen while you talk, a great tool is Free Cam.  You can use the tool to record a video explaining how to use your processes or forms.  For instance, you can use Free Cam to capture a video showing the entry of a third-party into your third-party due diligence tool.  A video showing the process can be easier to understand than a written procedure guide.

Survey and Polling Tools

Survey Anyplace has an easy-to-use interface for surveys, as well as strong analytics tools and reporting.  It can also accommodate quizzes and questions, which can help you to gauge comprehension before and after your training session.  Analytics can help prove the effectiveness of training.  Survey Anyplace can also be branded easily with your company’s colors and logos.  Survey Monkey is also a commonly used and reliable platform.

Polling Everywhere allows you to embed live polling into your PowerPoint slides or can be used from mobile devices.

Remote training doesn’t have to be painful.  By using multiple strategies for engagement and adult learning techniques, you can serve the needs of your employees while feeling heard and knowing that your training is effective.