ATD Blog

Being Virtual Is Not Just Providing People With Technology

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Too often organizations provide a web conferencing platform (the toolset) to allow their people and teams to meet, present, or train virtually and either believe these tools are easy to use (many are, but that's not the point) and neglect addressing the two other critical factors crucial to virtual event success.

We have seen a tremendous surge in how the lockdowns and social distancing policies have moved everyone online onto platforms like Adobe Connect, Zoom, Teams, and many more web conferencing tools so we can meet, present, sell, or train virtually.

David Smith Insights Figure.png


Organizations need their people to still connect, communicate, and collaborate and the toolsets that are being provided range from the free to use offerings from many vendors (such Teams as part of O365, Zoom, GoToMeeting), trial versions of the more advanced offerings (such as Adobe Connect, WebEx, and others), and all of these platforms have one thing in common: They can all host a virtual event. But that is where the similarities and differences start to develop.

The platforms themselves vary between screen-sharing technology like Zoom, Skype, and GoToMeeting, and platform-based offerings like Adobe Connect and WebEx. Why should that matter, you may ask? Well, if you are using a screen-sharing platform, you are sharing anything that may pop up on your screen, so that could cause some issues. The platform-based offerings allow the flexibility of loading content into an online room that everyone accesses and the host then controls what is shown.

It does not matter if we are using the toolset to conduct virtual meetings, present virtual presentations, run marketing webinars, or deliver virtual classroom training—you still need to address the two other critical factors: mindset and skillset.



In the COVID-19 online world that we are now all working in, mindset is key to how we turn up for the event. There are plenty of videos like this one where the attendee forgets they are on webcam and shows a little more than they probably intended.

Developing a virtual mindset is getting your people to think, “If I were in the office, how would I . . . ” and apply that same thinking to being virtual. Just because we are working from home does not mean we should not appear professional and business-like.



We all know how to meet, present, and train when we are co-located with our peers in the office, but do we have the skills to engage that invisible group online? Can we leverage (not just use) the toolset effectively so we still achieve the intended purpose we have for our virtual event, professionally and seamlessly?

This video from Tripp and Tyler is a great example of our people lacking virtual mindset and skillset as many of these challenges and issues should never happen if we are prepared, planned, and enabled to run and participate effectively in virtual events.

We have been working virtually for years by conducting telephone calls and conference calls, so adding a visual element should not be much different—but it is and that means we need a slightly different skillset.

Right now, in our lockdown situation, we may not have the same time or opportunities to learn how to develop mindset and skillset, but these resources should help.

For a deeper dive, check out ATD Virtual Conference, June 1–5.

About the Author

David Smith is global director and co-founder of Virtual Gurus, a company dedicated to supporting individuals and organizations in harnessing the potential of virtual classroom technologies as part of their
digital learning journeys. He is a skilled facilitator and organization development consultant. He has more than 25 years of solid business experience and takes great enjoyment and pride in helping private, public sector, and not-for-profit organizations implement training and development initiatives that produce results.

His passion is the transfer of learning, one of his favorite quotations being “Knowing is not enough we must apply, willing is not enough, we must do!” - Goethe 

His ability to craft engaging and interactive training sessions has been his mainstay and his passion for learning is evident in any engagement that he undertakes with his many global clients. 

David is a certified virtual classroom facilitator and instructional designer and regularly speaks at global conferences and training events on the subject of live online learning and how organizations can leverage the learning technologies of today.  One of his greatest achievements was leading a group of 18 multilingual European facilitators in delivering sales training to a group of 10,000 account managers and 2,500 business managers over a three-month period using WebEx Training Center.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.