Training Your Virtual Assistant: Three Easy Methods
A lot of business owners get worried at the thought of training new staff, especially virtual staff. However, it’s not that hard. We can harness technology to simulate you looking over your virtual assistant(VA) shoulder.
Here are three ways of disseminating information in a clear, concise manner so that your virtual staff can learn quickly and effectively.
1. Written Instructions
E-mail is not dead. It’s still a great tool and along with file transfers and project-management system (which we’ll go into in the next section), will probably be an integral part of the communication between you and your virtual staff. So it’s in your best interest to learn how to write clear and concise instructions.
A few best practices include:
- Use plenty of bullet points.
- Save important correspondence in a separate folder.
- Have one clear, overall objective per task, if possible.
- Give examples of what you’re looking for via screenshots, links, and attachments.
2. Audio Recordings
If writing is not your thing, then recorded trainings will be your best bet. Simply record your message on a smartphone or laptop using software like Audicity for PC or GarageBand for Mac devices. Speak as if you were talking face-to-face with your VA and remember to keep each recording focused on one topic.
A few best practices include:
- Be clear and concise and avoid rambling. I know that as entrepreneurs, we sometimes fall in love with the sound of our own voices – but I’m sure that’s not you, right?
- Create separate recordings for separate training subjects. It’s completely unfair to dump twenty to forty minutes of audio containing instructions for multiple tasks and projects on a virtual assistant. Save the instructions in separate folders by topic in Dropbox for easy searching later on.
- Label each audio file with a title that clearly communicates the objective of the recording so that both yourself and your VA can search for and find it easily.
- Always save your recordings. They can be used to train future virtual assistants over and over again.
- Don’t forget online chat platforms like Skype – they are great live audio training tools.
3. Video Recordings
Videos are the most effective format to use for training new virtual assistants. Information Overload often occurs when learning, and this enables your VA to review it again and again. The good news is that you have a few different options here. First, you can simply record yourself to allow your VA(s) to see you personally and get a sense of how you emphasize certain instructions.
This is also a strong way to build rapport.
Secondly, you can shoot screencasts, which are videos of your computer screen. This is by far my favorite training method. Screencasts have worked brilliantly for myself and for those business owners to whom I’ve suggested them, for the following reasons:
- The visual and audio combination leaves little room for confusion.
- You can train on your own time and not worry about syncing schedules.
- Every time you create a new video, you’re adding to a vault of training material for future virtual assistants to learn from and reference. This is especially important if the training is focused on a repetitive task that will always need to be done in your business.
- They are actually a lot of fun and are very easy to produce!
The two platforms I recommend for PC users are Camtasia and Jing. If you’re using a Mac, like me, you can also use Jing; however, ScreenFlow has a little more power behind it. Lastly, a live webcam training with your virtual assistant is a great way to train and build rapport. If you have more than one VA that you’d like to train in this manner, you can easily all hop onto a Google Hangout, so everyone can speak and be seen.
There are plenty of other options out there, so take a look around for something you feel comfortable working with. However, before you begin making a single video, I recommend checking out YouTube to see if the training you’re about to create has already been made.