An introduction to the online course sets the stage for the rest of the training. It’s important to provide the context needed for customers to be successful. As the first chance in an online course to grab the customer’s attention, the introduction is a vital component that should not be omitted.

introduction-online courseAdapted from photo by iamtheo / CC BY

1. Establish a connection

I recently attended an in-person training event about using Zendesk’s customer support software. The instructor started the training by introducing himself: his name, where he was traveling from, how long he had been providing online training with Zendesk, and how he personally used the software that he was training about. When utilizing an online delivery, establishing a connection between the trainer and the audience is just as important. Customers are still interested in learning who their instructor is, and what makes them an expert on the subject that they are leading a training about. Additionally, putting a face to the trainer furthers that connection with the customer.

2. Define the requirements

After the Zendesk trainer introduced himself, he announced a few steps for everyone in the audience to take in order to participate in the training, and provided the necessary instructions on how to complete them: connect to the wireless network, sign up for a google group for submitting questions and log in to your Zendesk account. If there are steps that your online audience needs to take in order to participate, or details that are valuable to a customer’s success at the course, provide this information in the online course introduction.

3. Provide the curriculum

In the last part of the training that I attended, the trainer summarized the agenda for the training. It’s important to define what you are going to cover in a training, online or in-person. Establishing the curriculum sets the customer’s expectations, and guides them as they begin the rest of the course.

We recommend using video for your introduction. There are many tools out there that make video production easier than ever. By keeping the video under six minutes, you can optimize for student engagement. But if you aren’t ready to create a video, the introduction is still beneficial to customers. A text lesson providing all of your introductory details still provides the context that students need before diving into the core of the training. By including an image of yourself, you can still initiate that social connection.

What works best for you? If you have any tips from your own courses on creating a good introduction for an online class, share your suggestions in a comment below.