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ATD Blog

With Virtual Training, Confusion Is Your Enemy

Friday, October 21, 2022

With virtual training, learner confusion is your enemy. Confusion degrades the virtual learning experience. Learners and their leaders might have confusion about:

  • Technology and video conferencing equipment
  • The features of the virtual classroom platform and how to use them
  • Class times and lengths
  • The learning management system (LMS) (both how to log in and how to use it)
  • Rules and expectations for engaging in the virtual classroom
  • Breakout sessions and how to engage in them
  • The virtual whiteboard or smartboard (how and when to use it)
  • Homework and between-session assignments, and how to post them
  • Post-course work and follow-up

And they might be baffled by a dozen other things you never dreamed might be challenging to learners!

You’ll Take the Blame

Unlike with physical training, virtual learners often blame anything that goes wrong on the trainer, even if it is not your fault. This includes issues with internet connections, microphones, cameras, user error, and simple failure to read the instructions.

When they have difficulty accessing information, getting into your session, or even getting online, the trainer can become the villain.

Three Keys to an Effective Virtual Training Communication Plan

At Sales Gravy, we’ve learned that the more our trainers communicate, the more we neutralize confusion and improve the experience for learners. There are three keys to breaking through confusion:

1. Over-communication. With virtual training, one-and-done communication is often not enough. Develop and execute a systematic, ongoing communication plan in advance for every virtual course you teach. Even when you feel like you communicate enough, you probably don’t.


2. Clear and concise communication. Review it once, review it twice, and be sure that anyone who reads, listens to, or watches it will understand exactly what you are communicating. Keep your message direct and brief.

3. Availability. Make sure that learners have easy access to you for questions and troubleshooting—and be responsive. In situations where you are not available, ensure that learners have an alternate contact point.

Your virtual training communication plan for each course should:

  • Get important information in the hands of learners early and often.
  • Remove excuses for not having the information or understanding the information.
  • Build emotional connections with learners.
  • Engage learners early.
  • Create buzz and excitement for the course.
  • Give you the moral high ground with learners and leaders who may blame you for their failure to read, listen to, or watch what you send them.

Leverage Multiple Communication Channels

It is up to you to leverage every communication channel at your disposal to connect with your learners before, during, and after training to accomplish these objectives. Never assume that people are reading and consuming what you send them.


Learners and leaders will not read the emails that you send them about the virtual training delivery. There are a number of reasons for this: overwhelmed inboxes, competing priorities, spam filters, and passive resistance when learners see no value in the training or don’t wish to attend.

Meet Learners Where They Are

With the many ways we communicate in the modern world, people tend to gravitate toward preferred channels. Find out what the preferred channels are for your learners enrolled in a particular virtual offering. If you do not communicate using that channel, your learners may miss your message.

Effective communication requires a mindset shift. You need to be comfortable communicating via email, LMS, direct messaging, webchat, social media, video, phone—even smoke signals if that’s what it takes.

When you leverage multiple communication channels, you are more likely to meet learners where they are and get your message across. The good news is, with effective communication, you’ll get more buy-in for virtual training.

About the Author

Jeb Blount is the bestselling author of 13 books and CEO of Sales Gravy, an international sales enablement and training firm. His new book, Virtual Training, gives you a step-by-step guide to delivering a legendary virtual learning experience.

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