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In today’s fast-paced digital world, remote work has become the norm, and so has online facilitation and training.

After years of working remotely and implementing online facilitation and training, I wanna share and delve deeper into the importance of “training from the back of the room” principles, how understanding different types of learning enhance online training and give tips and tricks I use.

While interactive boards like Mural and Miro have become popular tools, they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to achieving successful online training. I want to stress as well the crucial role of participant-centered learning and why a trainer needs to avoid dominating the conversation.

Beyond Interactive Boards: Building Engaging Online Experiences

Interactive boards like Mural and Miro have revolutionized the way teams collaborate in virtual settings. They offer a great platform for ideation, brainstorming, and collaborative decision-making. They also alleviate the “death by PowerPoint” presentation that could have been an email.

However, successful online training extends far beyond the mere use of these tools. To create an engaging and productive virtual experience, I must embrace various strategies that promote active participation, teamwork, and learning.

Otherwise, why make people come in an online face-to-face training when my training could be an automated recorded webinar?

Embracing “Training from the Back of the Room” Principles

The “Training from the Back of the Room” (TBR) approach, popularized by Sharon L. Bowman, is an innovative way of training that takes into account how people learn best. TBR is based on brain science and adult learning principles, focusing on maximizing engagement and retention among participants.

Key principles of TBR include:

Creating a Safe Learning Environment

Encourage a non-judgmental atmosphere where participants feel comfortable sharing ideas, asking questions, making mistakes, and where confidentiality on the exchange is key.

I foster this atmosphere from the start when I introduce myself, a fun fact about myself and then proceed to ask participants to do the same. I make sure to introduce working agreements for the training and ask for participants’ input to co-create a session where everyone feels safe.
I, generally, start breaking out participants into smaller groups in virtual rooms so they can exchange ideas or how they understand the training’s subject. This is known as a check-in activity.

An additional point I strongly pay attention to is my voice.

I make sure my voice is full of variations so it catches the participants’ attention, it is warm and engaging even if I cruelly lack sleep or when I am in dear need of coffee. We all know there is nothing worse than someone talking for more than 5 minutes with a monotone voice. Our brain tends to wander straight away to the groceries list or the other task we need to do by the end of the day.

Incorporating Brain-Friendly Activities

Employ a variety of interactive activities, such as case studies, role-plays, group discussions, and simulations. These activities stimulate different parts of the brain, enhancing the learning process.

When I design a training, I keep in mind the 90/20/8 rule. I can design a session without a break for 90 minutes. However, the content needs to be chunked into 20 minutes sections and participants need to interact in one way or another every 8 minutes. More details on the 90/20/8 in this article from The Bob Pike Group.

I found the interaction with participants every 8 minutes a fundamental rule to implement online. Online our span of attention is way shorter than in colocated mode so as a trainer you need to keep your audience engaged even if it is just by asking a question or asking them to perform an action on the interactive board or in the chat message.

Regular Reinforcement

Encourage spaced repetition and recapitulation to reinforce key concepts and ensure information retention.

I regularly use questions, either out loud or in writing on the interactive board to check on participants, such as:

  • What are your thoughts?
  • What is going on in your minds?
  • How does this resonate with you?
  • How do you see yourself applying this in your context?
  • What are your takeaways from this part?

Or I share an observation followed by a question:

  • I see some puzzled faces, what is going on for you?
  • I can see X is nodding, would you like to share a bit about your experience?
  • etc

Understanding Different Types of Learning

People have diverse learning styles, and acknowledging these differences is vital to successful online training. Some common learning styles include:

Visual Learners

Prefer using images, diagrams, and visual aids to grasp information better. Utilize charts, infographics, and videos to cater to their learning preferences.

Auditory Learners

Learn best through spoken words and discussions. Encourage open discussions, live presentations, and podcast-style sessions for auditory learners.

Kinesthetic Learners

Learn by doing and prefer hands-on activities. Incorporate interactive exercises and practical simulations to engage kinesthetic learners.

Reading/Writing Learners

Thrive when given written materials to read and take notes. Provide handouts, summaries, and written exercises for this group.

The Power of Participant-Centered Learning

Effective online training revolves around participant-centered learning. As a trainer, my role is to guide and support participants on their learning journey rather than being the central focus. Participants must be actively involved in discussions, problem-solving, and decision-making processes. This approach fosters a sense of ownership, responsibility, and commitment among the participants, leading to higher engagement and better outcomes.

As a trainer, I may know a lot, but I am generally not the only one. When I explain a concept, I try to not spend more than 8 minutes explaining it without engaging with my audience (remember the 8 minutes rules).

The Trainer’s Role: Listen, Guide, and Empower

As an online trainer, my primary responsibility is to listen actively to participants and facilitate meaningful discussions. I avoid dominating the conversation and instead act as a guide, encouraging everyone to contribute with their ideas, experiences, and perspectives. Remember that true learning happens through active participation and collaboration, not passive listening, no matter how amazing my experience is.
I consistently try to remember that as much as I like my voice, I like other’s voices even more 😉

Of course, I share relevant experiences… when it serves the participants’ learning journey.


Successful online training requires more than just having interactive boards at your disposal or sharing slides. The key lies in making the learning process participant-centered and empowering individuals to take charge of their own learning journey. Rather than seeing yourself as the guru of learning, see yourself as a guide who can also learn a lot from your audience.

As virtual trainers, let’s step into virtual training with the determination to foster a vibrant and productive online learning community. Online training doesn’t have to be dull and disengaging. On the contrary! They can be full of life, laughter, and insightful sharing of experiences.

Please, share with me your favorite tips and tricks while implementing online training.

If you are a Leader, a Change Agent, a Scrum Master, or a fellow Agile Coach and you’d like to know more, feel free to book a conversation with me.