How To Make Your Training Sessions More Interactive (The Ultimate Guide)

How To Make Your Training Sessions More Interactive (The Ultimate Guide)L&D departments consistently work hard to make training engaging and more interactive for employees, but sometimes it can be tricky. To make training sessions  interactive, learning professionals should focus on what employees need from training, which is to be involved, play an active role, and learn in a fun and authentic way that is meaningful and relevant to their work.

Remember, though, that when you are training employees and thinking of ways to increase interactivity, your primary goal is to build knowledge that learners can retain, and more importantly, can be applied in the workplace.

Learning how to make your training sessions more interactive will give you the tools you need to break out and be an excellent training professional.

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a challenging year, and in the world of corporate training development, we had to make some massive shifts to a virtual world, whether we were ready or not. With that said, I think we weathered the storm very well, and training in a virtual setting has now become the norm.

Related: L&D in COVID-19 and beyond

But as educators, we can continually improve, right?  

In-Person vs Virtual vs Online learning

Understanding how the training will be conducted and what format is very important to know to ensure the correct choice is being made for training. Covid has made in-person training very difficult, but virtual and online learning can be terrific methods of learning to make sure employees have the coaching and education necessary to do their jobs effectively.

Related: 5 Reasons Training Departments Switch to Virtual Instructor-led Training

To get us started, a special video from Tim Slade.

First Up, Check Out Tim Slade's Top Tips for Virtual Facilitation

As an initial set of ideas, this video includes one of my favorite eLearning and Instructional designers Tim Slade, who breaks down some top tips for virtual training and facilitation in his Q&A on YouTube #ATDAskATrainer

These are some great tips from Tim and are definitely worth trying. Producers, icebreakers and more, be brave and get experimental with your training.

So let’s take a look at the Taughtup Top 12 Tips to make your virtual training more interactive.

Structure your training session

group of people discussing and planning on a wooden table

Ensure that you have planned and structured your training content in advance and know how the session will run as a trainer or facilitator., you could start with a needs assessment to understand needs before you start. With this in mind, employees and stakeholders can have confidence that you know your stuff, and you can deliver a smooth, concise and educational training session.

Structured training enables you to be more flexible in your delivery and provides employees an experience of knowing what to expect which will keep them mentally involved in your session.

Setting Expectations Correctly

Making sure that your learners know what to expect way before they attend a virtual training session, will help massively with keeping them engaged in what you are presenting.

We want learners to understand and follow our lead, but we want to do it tactfully (we don’t want it to sound like a dictatorship), but people should know where they stand with you.

Starting with some housekeeping about what they can expect from the training is a great place to start, and include what your expectations of the learners are; this sets everyone up to have no surprises throughout the training period.

Make sure you have an energetic style

No one wants to listen to a dry, boring speaker. We’ve all been there, right? Someone who is very knowledgeable on the subject matter but their voice is monotone, and body language signifies that they are disinterested and have a low energy vibe. All this will achieve is participants will take a nap or at the very least mentally turn off and become distracted.

Related: How do you build and maintain a high level of energy while training?

We need to make sure that we are energetic, upfront, use humor, and engage your participants to give them the best experience possible. A lot of people will forgive a slight lack of knowledge if they vibe with the training professional presenting to them. It is the trainer that creates an atmosphere of excitement and makes people want to engage with the content, which will increase learning retention long term.

Make sure you’re using the right training technology

Girl attending a virtual training session

Overall, as There are so many options out there with how you can conduct your virtual training sessions. You can go with more traditional virtual platforms like Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting, which will allow you to show and receive video feeds (see your participants) and share your content, annotate, run polls, conduct breakout rooms, etc. 

Some of the best examples on the market for video conference tools are the following:


Zoom has become hugely popular through the pandemic with its free account, easy-to-use interface, and easy-to-use system with all the major conferencing features you need.

Cisco WebEx

WebEx doesn’t possess the public popularity of Zoom but still has all the functionalities of Zoom but has its own spin on ways of working which are also very easy to understand and use. If you want to know more about WebEx, check out our in-depth post below:

Related: Zoom vs. WebEx vs. Teams: Which should you choose


GoToTraining is a web-hosted online training service. It is an online classroom and desktop sharing software that enables the user to present their screen to other trainees and students via the Internet in real-time.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a cross-platform messaging app developed by Google. Originally a feature of Google+, Hangouts became a stand-alone product in 2013, when Google also began integrating features from Google+ Messenger and Google Talk into Hangouts.


BlueJeans by Verizon is a company that provides an interoperable cloud-based video conferencing service that connects participants across a wide range of devices and conferencing platforms.

There are also social collaboration tools on the market nowadays, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams which have everything the above programs have but have morphed into epic social collaboration tools. This allows you to conduct your training sessions, but learners can learn in the flow of work. They can socially engage with co-workers, use discussion boards and forums, chat, and transfer files, allowing for more peer-to-peer learning modalities. 

Give a great intro (Icebreaker)

Malte Helmhold, a content marketer preparing to create content in front of a professional podcaster microphone
Photo by Malte Helmhold on Unsplash

When you start a virtual instructor-led training (VILT) session, it is essential to start it off right, and a great icebreaker/intro is a terrific way to do this.

A good start of a training session can completely set the tone for the remainder of the learning experience and quickly get participants in the right frame of mind.

Some of the best ways to have a great start are being humorous, getting people involved, or asking participants to think about something and ask them to be involved in the activity or game you decide. This makes people feel included and that you have checked your ego at the door as a trainer, and you are wanting to put your attendees first by involving them early on, and most importantly, making a connection with learners.

Use Humor to make it fun

One of the best ways to make a training session fun is to use humor. Being humorous but respectful is one of the most effective ways to engage learners and make them feel at home and participate in the training.

  • Being self-deprecating
  • Telling jokes
  • Funny stories
  • Keeping the tone light-hearted

Things that have worked for me are the following: Remember, training sessions are rarely perfect. Admitting your flaws and fallacies will allow learners to relate to you, transforming your training into more of an engaging conversation rather than a dry, tedious presentation. This means learners can have a positive learning experience and feel they contribute to the event.

Related: 3 Ways to Use Humor to Boost Your Training

Keep it short

We’ve all been in a virtual training session with has ended up being a bit of a snore-fest if it’s too long, the content is not sticking in our brains, and inevitably, we don’t have a good learning experience.

When we are virtual, we can only see and hear what is happening, while our other three senses are muted due to not being in person, so we have to concentrate more as learners.

Check out this report on perceptual learning by NCBI in relation to clinical or research-based training.

Related: Less Is More: Latent Learning Is Maximized by Shorter Training Sessions in Auditory Perceptual Learning

Having no more than 10-minute bursts followed by a break or an interactive activity is the best way to make sure that learners keep engaged and are allowed to regather their concentration.

Invite a guest speaker (industry expert)

Watching a guest speaker present training

When you are planning your training session material, one of the things worth considering is, will you be the best person to facilitate, or should you bring in an industry expert to provide a different perspective to the presentation. The fact is, they may have considerable years of theoretical and practical knowledge on the subject, and getting your learners to buy in and value their input may be more straightforward than you think. Also if you are trying to learn a complex subject matter yourself, you may be putting too much pressure on yourself.

An example I can share is, when I was studying animation at college, we had the chief animator for “Danger Mouse” come in and speak to us about what life would be like as an animator in the field on a weekly cartoon.

It was great to hear his perspective and gave the class a great insight into what working in the industry would be like for someone out there doing it.

This is the same with adult education. We need to keep our eye on the prize, which is the learning outcomes being achieved, and if an expert in the field will provide the best learning experience rather than us for special training, then that is the direction you should go.

Use graphics, music and video content

Since covid, video conferencing has been a revelation in allowing training professionals to remotely train their companies workforces and transfer knowledge on a mass scale. 

It can get pretty stale if we do the same style repeatedly, so we need to inject some creative ideas into the mix and try new things. 

Related: Use Visual Cues To Enhance Learning

One thing that is statistically proven to work is by using multimedia, mostly graphical imagery, audio and video to stimulate the senses of your learners to keep them engaged in the content. For those who have done this before, playing a video over a video conference will not provide perfect playback, but will be good enough to display to participants what you are trying to show. 

The same with imagery and music provide additional stimuli for people to engage with and will provide an enhanced learning experience for your participants. 

You can share a video or image directly, or share your screen directly to enable this ability.

What about annotation

Zoom Annotation Menu Bar

Having the ability to annotate can be extremely powerful and extremely good at energizing your participants and keep their attention on the topic at hand.

Related: Using Zoom’s Annotate function to promote active learning

You will want to make sure that everyone can annotate, which can be done over the top of content or via a digital whiteboard.

This could be useful at the beginning or end of a session, to either introduce or conclude a topic. Ask learners to write their thoughts of the session on the whiteboard, but maybe only allow them to write 1 word.

If it ends up looking chaotic that’s fine, it’s more about the journey than the product.

Most platforms have this ability, and frankly, it should be a prerequisite when looking at procuring video conferencing platforms.

The main thing is to have fun with it, make mistakes, and create masterpieces as an aid to learning.

Try breakout sessions

WebEx Meetings Manual Breakout Rooms

It wouldn’t be a great idea to have a topic you want to be discussed by your participants, but you want to split up your group into various, smaller subgroups where they can have their own private discussion…welcome to breakout rooms.

With breakouts, it gives the participants a new way to engage with their co-workers and meet people that they don’t communicate with very often, where audio and video are entirely split and separated from the main room. This allows for robust collaboration and discussion within each breakout group. Afterward, the content can be shared with the broader group after the breakout sessions have ended.

At that point, everyone is brought back into the main room of the meeting to reveal their thoughts.

Poll your audience

One of the best ways to engage and interact with your learners is to ask questions and gather feedback. This can be completed verbally. Participants can do a “virtual hand-up,” where a hand-up icon appears on the host’s screen irrespective of sharing their screen.  Another way, which is arguably the most interactive, is to launch a poll to ask for feedback or use it as a test/assessment.

Most mainstream conferencing and collaboration platforms can create polls; they could be used as multiple or singular choice formats and unlimited questions. After answers have been received and the poll has ended, you can decide to share the answers or not with participants (anonymous usually) and save the poll as its file to be used for data gathering.

Polls can have great outcome is it is relevant. Use them sparingly, but they are always an option to spice up your training, either creating them live or having questions and answer lists already made and drop them into the training when needed.

Run quizzes e.g. Kahoot

Something beneficial for me was to signup with cloud-based quiz tools; one of the best and engaging examples is Kahoot. You can share your screen (make sure to optimize for video as well), and all participants will now see the quiz. At this point, participants will be prompted to go to the quiz screen on their phones and type in a game PIN where they can play via their mobile devices and keep an eye on their scores via their desktop screen.

I have run these quizzes many times, and it allows you to show your personality and be humorous with it; I was nicknamed (Alex Trebeck) for the last one.

Tell a story to make your training sessions more interactive

Remember, training and teaching are all about storytelling; explaining the past, present, and future will keep your students or participants engaged and alert and bring your training to life. Teaching how to do something is great, but adding an emotional back story gives your subject a life of its own and paints a picture in the learner’s mind.

Make your story aspirational and fun; don’t be a Debbie downer when talking about it, as that will change the entire vibe of the room.

Related: The Power of Storytelling: 7 Best Practices for Corporate Training

Story’s should be short but also provide an alluring proposition to your learners to make their own story by applying your teachings in the workplace or even at school (if applicable).

It is by far the best way of teaching and going through history; we can see this from ancient and indigenous cultures through to the 21st century.

Remember, learners are there to listen to what you have to say, be captivated, and take on a journey to learn valuable information.

Make it valuable, interactive, poignant, and most importantly, relevant!

Measure your results

Looking at analytics on a laptop

Training may be excellent, and the initial feedback can be highly optimistic, but it is meaningless unless positive behavior change occurs. Make sure to evaluate your training and make sure that change is happening, and if it is not, why not, and understand what additional interventions may be needed. Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation is a great place to start and has been a staple of learning evaluation for about 30 years.

Final Thoughts

As a Learning professional who has dedicated my career to educating others, I believe in each of the above points. More importantly, I have attempted and implemented each into my virtual instructor-led training.

There are also many other methods that we couldn’t fit into this post, such as the video conference platform chat feature and practice considerably as practice will always make perfect.

Technology choices are critical to making sure you can achieve the level of interaction you desire. If you are responsible for purchasing, do your research and make sure the right platform is chosen.

Also, be inquisitive and ask your learners their thoughts, probing questions to gather information on their current knowledge, and asking strong learners to help others when the need arises. This can be extremely powerful and also build meaningful relationships between co-workers or students.

Overall, making our virtual training sessions more exciting is something we should all try to do. We are here to design and create stimulating learning experiences, and only when we evaluate ourselves in-depth do we genuinely look outside ourselves and make the necessary changes.

The easiest way to do this is speaking, thinking about how receptive you would be as a learner experiencing the same content. Would you be excited, or is it nap time?

Most importantly, though, know it is a journey. Have fun with it, be brave, try new things, and don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone.

Let us know in the comments what you have tried and how it went.

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