As we have all learnt to do things in different ways due to the pandemic, we’re increasingly using platforms such as MS Teams to deliver training. 

Back in September 2020, Heather Steele organised a session in Leeds (for NHS and Public Health Resource Centre librarians) to share our learning of delivering training virtually.  We all had different ranges of experiences (some good, some not so good), and we just wanted to learn together. 

The first part of the informal session was hearing from colleagues who’d been delivering training / inductions using Teams, and then after a comfort break, a few of us stayed on line, and basically “had a play” with MS Teams – testing out the different buttons and functionality in a very safe, and supportive, environment.

We all learnt a lot, and after mentioning it to colleagues outside Leeds, it was suggested that something similar was put on for YOHHLNet, and this took place on 16th November.  Due to the online nature of the session, places were also made available for any colleague across the North.

The first part of the session heard from NHS library colleagues:-

  • Jenny Emmel - talking about her experiences of delivering literature searching via MS Teams
  • Maria Simões – talking about her experiences of using MS Teams for the library element of the Trust wide corporate induction, and also the BookClub
  • Paul Twiddy – talking about his experience of observing other groups delivering training.

The notes that were made from their shared experiences (as first outlined for the session in Leeds) can be found here.

Having heard how interactivity is so important in delivering virtually, we got feedback from delegates using – for the very important questions of what month were you born in (to test out the multiple choice option), and what is your favourite food (to create a word cloud from their free text responses).

We then heard about the experiences of Sally Dalton, from the University of Leeds, and Paul Wilkes, from the Leeds City Council 100% Digital Team.

Their top tips were as below:-

Sally Dalton

  • Try to keep your sessions interactive by using the tools available to you, e.g. polls, mentimeter, chat box, hands up etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things, explain to your participants that you are trying something new and why you are doing it. If it doesn’t work, don’t worry!
  • Try using an icebreaker at the beginning to relax participants, it also allows them to try out the tools. For example, colouring in, marking on a map where home is etc.
  • Don’t forget about accessibility. Send accessible handouts out in original format, in advance. If you can, record the session and send out with captions.

Paul Wilkes

  • Think about who your audience is and tailor it to them e.g. using BSL and subtitles for sensory impaired audience.
  • Speak with people who work within the sector of your subject as they may provide useful insight and expertise that you haven’t thought about.
  • Plan group discussions ahead of time as they can be trickier if they are completely open, but if you know what you’re aiming for you can make use of the comments features. 

After a comfort break (as one delegate noted, more tea is drunk during virtual meetings, so comfort breaks are vital!) we tested out using an IdeaBoard to collate experiences from delegates about training virtually.

These collated experiences are still visible on the IdeaBoard at and also in a pdf format.

For the final part of the session, we divided into groups for a “play” with MS Teams, testing out different views, backgrounds, subtitles, taking over presenting etc …. it was really helpful to try out the technology and all the functionality in a safe environment.

The feedback following the event (both anecdotal, and via the evaluation survey) was extremely positive.  Thank you again to all the speakers for sharing their experiences, and also to all the delegates for interacting so enthusiastically during the session. 

Helen Swales
Library Services Manager, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust & YOHHLNet CPD Lead