Five tips for using PowerPoint 2010 for online training

By Katherine Murray | February 25, 2011, 11:30 AM PST

PowerPoint 2010 includes a great new broadcast feature that enables you to host virtual training sessions live on the Web, based on a PowerPoint presentation you create. The broadcasting is just part of the picture for successful training, though. This article introduces some ideas to help you engage your participants and improve your training over time.

1: Plan for engagement

Think back to the best training session you've ever attended. What were the key elements? Chances are, the content was covered in bite-size chunks; there were plenty of illustrations to add color and visual interest; and the trainer kept you awake by asking questions, telling stories, and making the training relevant to your work or life. When you're offering online training, you don't have the benefit of seeing whether your participants are actually paying attention. Sure, if you're having a conference call you can hear who "seems" to be there and who isn't, but how do you know folks aren't just playing Solitaire while you talk?

Create your presentation in such a way that you introduce key concepts and then break for questions and answers or some other kind of group involvement. Break it up and keep folks awake and engaged. It's just too easy to zone out staring at a browser full of never-ending bullet points.

2: Broadcast your presentation over the Web

The broadcast capabilities of PowerPoint enable you to share your presentation in a browser window with anyone who has Web access. They don't even have to have PowerPoint. To broadcast the finished presentation, click the File tab in PowerPoint 2010 and click Save & Send. Click Broadcast Slideshow (twice, actually) and the screen shown in Figure A appears. When you click Start Broadcast, you are given a link you can email to all those who will be participating in the online training. At the designated time, just send the link (perhaps along with handouts you've prepared) and the fun begins!

Starting a presentation broadcast in PowerPoint 2010.

3: Connect by voice, too

One of the current limitations of PowerPoint 2010's broadcast capabilities is that you don't get any audio or video feeds with your broadcast. You can page through the slides as you normally would, but your narration or video pieces will be missing. Be sure to set up a conference call alongside your broadcast presentation so that you can talk people through the process you're presenting to the group.

4: Prepare handouts in advance

PowerPoint makes it easy for you to prepare handouts to go along with your virtual presentation. You can send handouts — complete with slide miniatures and slide notes — to participants in advance so that they can ask questions as the training unfolds or keep the information to refer to later. To prepare your handouts in PowerPoint 2010, click the File tab, click Save & Send, and click Create Handouts. Then, click the Create Handouts button. In the Send To Microsoft Word dialog box, choose the page layout style you want and click OK.

Choose the type of layout you want for the handouts you create.

5: Link to your site for follow-up

After you complete your online training, send a follow-up message that gives participants a way to leave feedback. You may want to post a survey on your site (where you can also make the presentation available, if you like), offer a downloadable questionnaire, or create a discussion forum so that trainees can continue the conversation. Take any suggestions you receive to heart and fine-tune the presentation so that it gets better and better over time.

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