Today, because of COVID-19, many companies are now deciding to do training virtually instead of live and in person in the classroom format. The critical question, then, becomes how to select the right company to facilitate your organization’s virtual leadership training program? Here are some criteria for ensuring you make the right choice for your virtual training investment, and they all began with the letter E: experience, expertise, engagement, equipment, entertainment value, and education.
In selecting a training company to facilitate your virtual training, you need to find out if they have experience. Many companies have just begun to facilitate virtual training, but you want someone who has been conducting virtual training programs for years, not weeks. You need to find out 1) if the company you are working with has extensive virtual training experience, and 2) if the facilitator of the program is experienced in facilitating virtual training on platforms such as Adobe Connect, WebEx, and Zoom. This experience is critically important, because there are subtle difference between live training and virtual training that can make or break any virtual program. For example, a company might insist on a four- to six-hour virtual training program, and an inexperienced virtual facilitator might agree to that condition, even though virtual training programs more than two hours long decrease retention and erodes the effectiveness of the virtual training.
Another important question to ask is whether the company and the facilitator have the subject matter expertise on the topic that is being offered? For example, at Shawn Doyle Training we offer a comprehensive leadership development program, with program content based on actual experience. Many times, facilitators are theoretical and academic experts, but do not have real-life, hands-on experience. A facilitator who can draw from practical experience allows training to be much more realistic, applicable, and relevant.
When companies first started doing virtual training years ago, it was no more than a narrated PowerPoint deck, which was not engaging for learners. In the modern world, virtual learning must be extremely engaging. In order to achieve the right level of engagement, many different techniques must be incorporated into the training, including chat functions, exercises and activities, and many other tools to make sure that that learning is active not passive. The learners must also have an opportunity to not only engage with the facilitator, but also with each other, which dramatically improves the level of retention and learning.
Like it or not, we live in a world where people can download entertainment to any device at the touch of a button. Because of what we call the “entertainment factor,” we need to make sure that training is not only informative and valuable, but also entertaining at the same time. We use proprietary tools to make sure that the training is engaging and entertaining so that people are fully involved and engaged and we maintain their attention on the content that is being delivered at the same time making the training fun and entertaining. Keep in mind that this is not done just for the sake of fun; when adults are actively engaged, their retention level is increased.
A frequent problem with training is that it is too theoretical and not practical. Virtual training must be applicable to specific job challenges, and learners must be given specific tools and techniques that they can use immediately to effectively “win at work”.
The quality of virtual training is commensurate with the quality of the equipment. It might be great content, but it also has to look good. Ask your facilitator what kind of equipment will be used and ask to see a live demonstration. During the demo, look at three core elements. First is the picture quality clear and professional and the picture framed well? Second, can the presenter be seen well and is the picture nice and bright? Third, is the audio crisp and can the presenter be heard well with no echo or distortion?
When you are considering using a company for virtual training, make sure to look at these core elements in order to make the best decision and get the best results for both your company and your team members.