How to set up a virtual book club

I want to try something different for my learners

Trainers book clubare always looking for ways to create ways their constituents can gain more knowledge and skill in innovative ways.  There are plenty of online training modules, short-streamed videos, educational marketing emails, lunch and learns, job aids, etc.  Part of the problem with some of these methods is that they are “spot” solutions.  By that I mean the learner might engage with them briefly or a handful of times, but not over a duration of time.

As adult learning experts, we know that plain exposure to content is not learning.  True learning takes place over time when the learner has had a chance to digest the core concepts, personalize them, and use them in some way, and to practice and fail in a safe environment.  This takes time.

How about a virtual book club?

One novel way (pun intended) to solve this or at least to try something different is to set up a virtual book club.  Whether your target audience is the most senior leaders in your organization, sales professionals, engineers, finance, IT, HR, manufacturing, etc. there are always a plethora of current and past books that can be chosen for topics.

I like this as a training pro, because even when you have staff who are dispersed across the globe, they all have the opportunity to participate.  All of the activities can be completed online, although, for those co-located, face-to-face meetings can be held too.  These are some of the interesting things you can engage with your virtual book club:

  • Vote on the book or next book to discuss
  • Write reviews of the book being read
  • Read reviews of books by others
  • Participate in live events, through chat, to discuss the book
  • Participate in discussions
  • Read other points of view on the same book just read
  • Gain knowledge
  • Have fun!

You might be thinking, this sounds great, but is it expensive?  How do I get started?  I’ll walk you through a step-by-step process to do this.

Create a virtual book club in 8 steps

I am using a free Book Club Virtual Community called:   This is not the only one out there, but I like that there are broad categories of books and a large base of users already established.  And it’s FREE!

Setting up your book club for your training group.

  1. Go to
  2. Register as a user.
  3. Create a profile.
  4. Create a Book Club.
  5. Choose a Book.
  6. Invite the people you want to join to join. (NOTE: I recommend an email description of the book club and the upcoming invite they will receive)
  7. Establish the ground rules.
    • When and/or how to meet or participate.
    • Book club session dates.
    • Overall expectations.
  8. Schedule a Kick Off meeting or discussion.

Tips for your virtual book club

  • Consider giving a couple of weeks from the invitation to the start of the book club to allow your participants time to get the book.
  • The books can be downloaded for purchase right from the site, or shipped through
  • If you are buying a large number of books, you often can get a bulk discount directly from the publisher.
  • If you are the facilitator, make sure you read ahead to load questions for your readers to consider and answer each week.
  • Consider designating a “guest” facilitator each week, which helps distribute the facilitation load and helps ensure participation.
  • Create a contest related to the book club for best reviews or most participation, etc. People love competition.
  • The my-bookclub application allows you to keep your book club private if this feature is important to you.

A call to action

IRobert Herjavec set up The Janus Experience Book Club.  I just started reading the first book I’d like to review with whoever is willing to join, You Don’t Have to Be a Shark, by Robert Herjavec, of ABC’s Shark Tank.  Here’s Robert giving a 90-second overview of the book.

His overall premise, which I believe, is that one of the most important skills anyone can have is selling.  Everyone does it, from the parent trying to get his or her child to eat the right food, to the sales executive working multi-million dollar deals.

Please consider joining and reading the book with me.  We will officially start as we get enough people to start the club with (Please consider joining).  Watch the video for a step-by-step way to find my book club… or click here.


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