Nov 16, 2020
I am quite often asked if virtual training is as effective as face-to-face delivery. People want to know if delegates will be as engaged as they would be if they were in a room with other people, or will they simply begin to lose interest and switch off?
Now I must confess, my view always used to be that face-to-face training was always preferable to e-learning, and that there was no substitute for being able to ‘work the room’ and fully interact with participants.
I think this view was due in part because I really enjoy other peoples company, and being an extrovert I gain energy from being around people and interacting with them.
From a trainers perspective it is also far easier to read body language and gauge the feeling in the room when you are actually physically present. A large part of my job involves noticing the raised eyebrow, the little glance to another colleague or a subtle shift in body position.
This leads me to think that my early hesitancy toward the virtual training option was more about me, and less about the delegates.
My view now has changed, and for a number of reasons. For instance, how an individual receives training can depend a lot upon Character Type; some people’s worst nightmare is to spend a day in a room with others and interact with them closely. These individuals consistently report that they enjoyed a virtual training session far more than face-to-face.
The training subject also makes a huge difference. The more educational the topic is, and the more it involves the dissemination of information; the more suitable it may be for distance learning. If the training involves ‘hearts and minds’ and possibly inspiring people towards impacting upon subsequent behaviours, then face-to-face training is in my opinion, often the better option.
Individual motivation is also key. If the delegate is keen to learn and looking forward to attending a training workshop, they are far more likely to gain the most from a virtual facilitation.
The word facilitation leads me to my last point. For online training to work, it needs to be less about traditional training and more about facilitation. Delegates need to constantly involved in dynamic and interactive ‘bite-sized’ sessions, utilising break-out rooms with plenty of comfort breaks as well. This will ensure they stay focused and engaged throughout the whole experience.
So there you have it, a few thoughts about online training. Virtual training that is planned and facilitated properly can be an excellent medium through which to facilitate great training workshops.
There was already a shift towards remote learning and recent worldwide events have simply accelerated this inevitable change.
There is still a place for face-to-face training, but we are all now living in the new virtual reality.
Thanks for reading.