How To Teach Online During the Current Crisis

Curated by Paul Helmick

I’m a Technology CEO and Experienced Entrepreneur. I love helping people use technology to grow their business.

David Siteman Garland is an incredible internet entrepreneur known for his podcasts, interviews and online courses

  • In his post he shares some awesome tips about how to teach and best share your knowledge with your community
  • Here’s a summary with the full guide below
  • 1/ Format – Slides, On Camera or Screencasts
  • 2/ Delivery – Live or Pre-Recorded
  • 3/ Format – Virtual Coaching, Classes, Workshops or Subscriptions
  • 4/ How to market it.
  • I’ve listened to David’s best practices for years and it’s on-point – here’s his full writeup on his strategy.

Full Article


  • So, the world is in a bit of chaos. OK, a lot of chaos. The virus. The economy. The uncertainty. The change.
  • People are being advised (or more than advised) they can’t work/play/etc. which has brought more people home than ever before.
  • Of course…health, safety, food, shelter…those are the most important.
  • The economy is shifting out of necessity. In-person classes, trainings,
  • etc. are being replaced with a new home economy. And it’s not just
  • “work from home.” This new emerging economy is “TEACH from home.
  • There is a HUGE uptick in online learning. Why? Because people are ‘stuck’
  • at home and looking to learn, pursue passions and even start businesses.
  • Just scrolling through my Facebook feed is very telling.


  • At The Rise To The Top, we have have been teaching people online learning for over 11 years with thousands of customers in over 100 countries.
  • We wanted to put this guide together to help guide you during uncertain times and the new economy and reality in front of us.
  • The world needs your knowledge more than ever and in this guide we are going to show you and share with you some ideas of how you can do that online.
  • Regardless if you are taking something offline and teaching it online (free or paid) or creating a new business or whatever-your-goal-is, we are here to help.
  • This guide is meant to be an overview to introduce you to this new “Teach from home” (and continuing to grow…learn from home) economy. You will find insights, tips and strategies (as well as technical recommendations).
  • We will make it through this. And make the best of our new reality.
  • -David Siteman Garland

Founder of The Rise To The Top & Create Awesome Online Courses

How to Teach Online During The Current Crisis

Where to get started?

First of all, a fun fact (especially if you are new to teaching online): Anything that can be taught offline, can be taught online. We have seen success with literally thousands of topics ranging across the board. A few of that might make your eyebrows go up a bit and say “Realllllllllly?” Include:

The good news is that now, more than ever before, tools and mediums (i.e Instagram LIVE, Facebook LIVE, etc.) have made it SUPER EASY to share live and pre-recorded content online. This wasn’t the case even 5 years ago. The tech has evolved so it is no longer a barrier.

Also keep in mind…

It’s all about the content.

Read that again.

It’s not about fancy production (good news, you can cancel your contract with Steven Spielberg).

It’s not about needing some kind of crazy-mega camera. The one in your pocket and/or on your computer is probably good enough.

We are not aiming for a perfect production here.

We are not aiming to cancel everything and cry in the corner if your kiddo wonders into the room.

We ARE aiming to help people get results. Offline teaching and online teaching both have the same goal:


First thing to decide on: The FORMAT.

When it comes to format there are really 3 ways of delivering online content (and yes you CAN mix and match).

Option 1: SLIDES (powerpoint, keynote or anything else…Prezi is another option for slides).

Slides are just like they sound…slides. You are simply talking over slides. While this might sound a bit boring, it’s an effective way for people to learn information and also to go back and read parts of what they missed.

Again, we are focusing on simplicity here. You can have picture-heavy slides. Text-heavy slides it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it is all about helping people get results!

It then is as simple as plugging in a microphone (microphone recommendations are coming up!) and recording your slides.

Option 2: ON CAMERA: If you have a topic that is more visual (fitness, cooking, martial arts, etc.) the best option for you will most likely be “on camera”

You…talking. Demonstrating. Sharing, etc.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard when it comes to camera is to first ask…”What do I already have?”

A phone with a nice camera?A nice webcam?

Often times that is more than good enough. Especially where technology is now.

Want to get fancier? No worries. Here are some great camera recommendations (and microphones!)


If you are SHOWING someone something on your computer, Screencasts are another great option. Screencasts are essentially someone sitting on your shoulder (not literally, hah) to show you how to do something. For example, how to set up a website or how to use a particular piece of software, etc.

Later on in this guide, we will break down easy-to-use screencasting tools.

Second thing to decide on is DELIVERY:

#1: Will this be live?

#2: Will this be pre-recorded?

A quick break down…


Live…is just that. LIVE. And if you are scared of live, don’t be. There is an organic nature of live where people don’t expect things to be perfect. Again, it’s all about the content.

The good news is here in has never, ever been easier to “Go Live” to deliver your content.

And while you might not be a pro at first (OK…something nobody talks about…NOBODY is a pro at first) over time you will absolutely get the hang of it. Like everything, it gets easier with time and experience.

When it comes to delivering online trainings, classes, workshops, etc that people PAY FOR here are some quick recommendations/options:

Option #1: Create a Facebook Group just for your customers/students who have purchased the program for you. This is free.

Then, simply “Go Live” in the Facebook Group…and either talk on screen, share your slides or share your screen.

Option #2: A 3rd party software. Again, just for paying customers, they will be able to register and login to watch you live (regardless if you are on screen direct to camera, slides or screencasting).

While not free like Facebook, here are two recommended services that are the most stable and easy to use to deliver paid trainings:

GoToWebinar: GoToWebinar is my preferred way to do live webinars. This platform ontinues to be the gold standard. There have been competitors that have hit the market, but I prefer GoToWebinar.

Zoom: This is another easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing. Originally designed for conference room solutions, zoom now offers webinar solutions as well

What’s nice about Zoom and GoToWebinar, is they will both easily record your live videos. Then, you can re-use them again in the future.

While Instagram LIVE and other streaming services are great for marketing/delivering free content, those are not recommended for paid content as you want your paid trainings to only be accessed by paying customers/students.


Don’t want to teach live? That’s fine!

Pre-recording is also a great option.

Some recommended tools for pre-recording:

ScreenFlow is a option for a Mac.

Camtasia: is a great option for a PC.

Then, you will need to deliver your content to your

customers & students. This can be done a variety of ways…but a highly recommended one is Course Cats. Yes, mild shameless plug but that is a company I’m the co-founder of which is an all-in-one-solution for delivering online courses, workshops and other digital products if you want them to have a home on the web.

Regardless of whether you plan on going live or pre-recording…if you use your computer you will definitely want an external microphone to ensure an amazing sound.

Here are our microphone recommendations:

Third thing to decide on is the STRUCTURE:

So…how are you going to structure your program? Is it going to be 1-to-1? 1-to-many?

Let’s break down the most popular and impactful structures for online learning:

Virtual Coaching: This is the simplest. The least scalable. The most intimate. You and one person face-to-face…online.

There are numerous ways to do virtual coaching.

One is to have a pre-agenda (example: Someone sends you what they want to discuss/list of questions) and you hammer them out live and answer additional ones.

The other is just simply hop on a call, sit back and ask all the questions fired at you.

While virtual coaching isn’t as scalable, it can be very lucrative (for example: my virtual coaching is $1,000/hour). This can be as simple as a Skype or Zoom session.

Workshops: The way we define a workshop is a single event. It can be 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, etc. but it is essentially one topic that can be taught over a SINGLE session (live or pre-recorded).

For example, “everything you need to do to write a book” might be more an online course (below) but a workshop might be “How to outline your book in 1 hour.”

Think more micro-topics. Workshops can be as creative as you are.

It might be a live workshop on how to properly stretch your back and quads. It might be a pre-recorded workshop on how to draw 10 different animals. The sky is the limit.

Lessons: This is an emerging trend that is really nice and can also be live or pre-recorded.

For example, I just saw an example of virtual baseball lessons. You can have the coach be right there with you on video as you swing at home and offering critiques LIVE.

OR you can video tape yourself, send it to a coach and he/she will send you feedback, drills, etc.

Again, anything in person can be done online (as long as it is safe…of course!)

Classes/Courses: These are the classic multi-module (module is just course speak for chapters…chapters in a book/modules in a course…same thing) online course where you break down a topic into step-by-step instructions.

It might be a 5-week live course every Friday teaching how to become a karate instructor (and of course, students get access to the recordings). It might a 8-module pre-recorded course on how to become a better poker player.

This is where bigger topics get broken down into a step-by-step system. This is what I teach in my Create Awesome Online Courses program.

Weekly or Monthly Subscriptions: These are recurring ongoing subscriptions and another lucrative model.

For example, subscribe and every week you get a brand new cooking lesson…using 5 ingredients or less done LIVE. Or subscribe and each month we will send you a pre-recorded video with the latest ways of marketing on Instagram for gyms.

The nice thing about this model is as you record each training, you develop an archive which can be sold to future customers.

Fourth thing is HOW TO MARKET IT:

I had someone write in our private Facebook group the other day that they were worried about marketing/asking for money during a crisis especially if their class/product program is considered “non-essential.”

It’s a great thought and very empathetic, but let’s shift our mindset. Sure, food/shelter/health are top priorities.

Obviously. But, here are a few things to consider.

From your end: You need money to survive. Check social media every day now and you will see people saying they can’t work or their job can’t be done virtually, etc. You cannot be afraid of asking for money. And realize you aren’t offering a scam/something sketch…you are HELPING PEOPLE. That’s the win-win of online teaching…you are teaching people, they are learning and implementing.

  • When it comes to your customers/students, let’s just call it like it is:
  • People are home and looking for things to do
  • People are looking pursue new passions and hobbies
  • People are looking to continue with old passions and hobbies
  • People are looking for online opportunities
  • People spend money on the essentials but they also spend money

on MANY other things.*

*Let me give you an interesting example here: Slow pitch softball bats. Yes, seriously. One of my big hobbies (ahem…obsessions) is slow pitch softball. On Facebook, I’m in numerous groups for buying and selling of softball bats.

You would think with “everything that is going on right now” that this would slow to a crawl. Nobody would be buying bats now, right? WRONG. The pages are hotter than ever. New releases getting eaten up like….errr something that gets eaten up. Sold out. etc.

And fun fact, softball players aren’t exactly Bill Gates and his friends. These are every day salt-of-the-earth people. The point is people buy for different reasons…even during difficult times. Comfort. Passion. Opportunity. To make things feel normal. Curiosity. Ambition. Even, fear (although that’s my personal least favorite).

When it comes to marketing RIGHT NOW it’s all about simplicity. When creating an offer:

#1: First of all do an audit of your assets to reach to your target market online. What do you have? Example: Email list, blog, website, YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook, etc. You don’t need a million things here, just know you need SOME WAY to reach your market. And fun fact…people have built 7-figure-plus online learning businesses just from Facebook.

#2: Tone. When in a crisis our tone is different. It’s MORE understanding. It’s MORE empathetic. It’s MORE human. We should really be like this all the time…but I digress. So in everything you do (your copy, your marketing, etc.) remember this tone. Acknowledge the crazy world and crisis right now. Mention that more people are looking to learn than ever. And come from a place of genuinely wanting to help people.*

*NOTE: If you don’t genuinely want to help people teaching is NOT for you.

#3: Keep it simple and get your offer out there. Email your email list. Put up posts on Facebook. Maybe even record a video and give people a taste of what you are offering. Pop it up on Instagram. The worst thing you can do is keep it a secret. Let everyone know what you are offering, when it takes place and how to sign up. We live in a social-media driven society, even if the person who sees it isn’t the perfect customer they might have a friend/cousin/colleague/puppy who is.

One ‘secret’ nobody talks about when it comes to marketing is consistency. Meaning, consistent marketing (getting the message out, etc.) is the key to long term success in this business (vs. a flash in the pan). As you gain experience, you will develop the skills of being able to feature students results, run specials, learn to leverage things like ads, PR, etc. But one step at a time…the first goal is to get your first customers in.

Next steps and further help:

This guide comes from a place of wanting to help. And we have seen, over the last 11 years, thousands of people across the globe become successful at teaching online. If you are looking for further help and resources here are some of the ways we can help you:

Course Cats: A complete website solution for selling digital courses, trainings and programs. Everything you need from sales pages to order forms to a place actually house your trainings. Comes with a full-featured SIXTY day free trial. 

Conversion Cats: If you are looking to create your personal brand online and share your expertise with the world, take a look at Conversion Cats which includes a full website template, landing pages and more all optimized for personal brands, influencers and experts.

Create Awesome Online Courses: If you want to create an online course (and build your online audience) look no further than our flagship program with over 6,000 students in 100 countries who have built successful courses on every topic imaginable from baby sleep training to clarinet lessons for adults.

Rise Inner Circle: Monthly “what’s working now” training in the digital product and online teaching space. Each month we bring in experts to teach a valuable step-by-step training. Plus, you get access to a vibrant Facebook community of “Inner Circlers.”

Additional Workshops: From Facebook Ads to building an audience and numerous other topics, browse our library of step-by-step workshops.

Yes, it is a scary time right now. Yes, there is a lot of uncertainly. And yes, there is an amazing opportunity. Together we will get through this and come out thriving.

We are here to help.