Why You Should Blend Online and Live Presentation Skills Training

A mixed berry smoothie on a purple backdrop.

Contrary to common belief, presentation skills training can be conducted online. For one, online resources provide the flexibility for training to be customized for each individual. Of course, there’s no complete substitute for the interpersonal exchange live learning sessions can provide. Coupling online modules with classroom training allows you to take advantage of the best of both formats.

A major challenge of teaching presentation skills is that people come into the course with widely varying skills. For anyone looking to improve their live performance, core concepts and preparation practices can easily and efficiently be taught in an online environment.

Consider these recommendations for designing effective blended presentation skills training.

Online skill development

Organize resources and activities that level-set participants on core concepts such as audience analysis, elements of effective presentations (e.g., structure, openings, closings), recommendations for different types of presentations, steps for preparing a presentation, recommended practices for visuals and advice for handling tough questions or negative reactions. You can provide eLearning modules, articles and templates to develop varying levels of skill in these areas and more.

Include a self-assessment in your learning management system to help learners target which elements to explore so they’re not overwhelmed by their options. You may even want to create a different LMS experience depending on identified needs. Your LMS can suggest targeted resources based on the learners’ specific skill development needs, role in the organization or other factors.

Provide videos of exemplary presentations in a variety of contexts, along with advice on what to watch for, as well as a standardized critique sheet to observe with a keen eye. The critique sheet can also capture reflections of what learners may want to emulate or avoid based on their careful observation. Share exemplary slide decks here as well.

Enable a baseline assessment and practice of core presentation skills. People enrolled in a course can use online tools or even smartphones to capture and critique their own presentations and to share their videos and slides for peer and instructor critique as well. Use the same critique sheets mentioned above to guide self-evaluation and feedback from others.

Classroom elements & follow up

Use classroom time for in-depth practice and feedback. Scheduling several workshop sessions days or weeks apart accelerates development by giving people opportunities to process feedback, learn more, practice further and prepare for the next round. Make sure to welcome your remote workers to instructor-led courses, too. A virtual online meeting integration through your LMS lets employees benefit from the group environment regardless of their location. Bonus: You save on your enthusiastic remote learners’ travel costs, and you promote a team atmosphere.

For advanced classes, include audience reaction role playing in your live sessions. While learners are delivering their presentations, their peers can take on typical audience roles to ask questions and give realistic but surprising reactions. Debriefing these sessions requires strong facilitation to reinforce what is done well and provide advice on further development.

Identify additional in-depth resources that can be recommended by the instructor in order to help people fine-tune their skills between sessions and beyond the confines of the course. Presentation skill development never ends; most people will be honing those skills throughout their careers.

The perfect blend for accelerated learning

Designing presentation skills training in this fashion empowers a fully personalized experience along with the live performance and feedback that’s necessary for skill development. It enables everyone in the course to advance their skills regardless of their position on the proficiency continuum. And development doesn’t end when the course does, because people continue to have access to a range of informative and inspiring materials through the LMS. The ability to communicate through presentations is a skill worth working at—and a blended solution is often the best way to make real strides.