As businesses pivot quickly to functioning in our new world, we’ve been assessing which services can be delivered seamlessly through virtual channels. Whether it’s virtual media roundtables to social media training, we’ve been able to move pretty much everything that we do to a remote working environment.
One service we’ve rolled out successfully is media training, and with executives not traveling, there is demand. Through mastering the full functionality of the collaboration tools available, we’ve been able to switch a meeting room with full camera set-up into a remote training with mock interviews and video playback.
Here are some learnings:
Structure is critical
The agenda for training sessions is normally fairly tight to make the most of someone’s time. In a virtual world, having a clear and efficient running order is really important. We make sure people know when they have breaks, how long each section is and what they should be doing in between. For example, if you run a session with two to three people, those not being interviewed should turn off their camera and microphone. We’ve also tried to do shorter practice interviews, which keeps the intensity and energy up.
Using the technology right
Making sure that the technology works is clearly one of the most important things. We practiced this thoroughly, with different combinations of people and in different orders. We’ve found that if this all works smoothly, it often seems more seamless than switching between slides and playback in a physical meeting room. We also find its important to know the limitations of the technology – don’t try to do too much – and like physical sessions, three people is really the maximum before you start to lose focus.
Trying new things
The emphasis in media training tends to land on in-person and broadcast interviews. However, because of the flexibility that virtual training affords you, we’ve been able to add in new styles of interviews more easily – including radio and telephone – meaning we can offer more customized sessions. We also advise in detail on how to look and sound in remote webcam interviews.
One part we don’t have control over is the location of those being trained – we give clear instructions about what makes a good location (quiet, light but no too bright, background not too busy). Its also a good time for trainees to get some impartial feedback about how their set-up looks on a home computer or a laptop – in case you missed it, you can find our detailed advice about this here.
Time of day
Where possible we find that mornings are better for energy levels – a full day of Zoom calls can start to have its toll on those being trained at 4pm.
Have a Plan B
While the technology – so far – hasn’t failed us, it’s always important to have a backup. We share the slides with trainees in advance, just in case we need to go manual and talk trainees through things on a conference line.
We’re available to discuss our approach to virtual media training and any training requirements you might have. Communicating to the media, and indeed to external audiences more generally, is going to be more important than ever in this period and as we exit into a new normal.
Charlie Morrow is a director based in London