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Is In-Person Training More Effective Than Virtual Training?

This is another one of those questions that we get asked all the time as we offer our workshops virtually and in person – we don’t use the phrase F2F as virtual workshops are still F2F as we ask for cameras to be switched on. 

The answer is that it depends on the way that people are working, what’s going on currently and what the topic is. 

Location and ways of working (remote, hybrid, in-person)  

If people work fully remotely, there often isn’t an option to bring them together in person as they’re in different geographies. We have clients with global teams who have never physically met so bringing them together on a virtual session helps to build relationships. These clients want to continue building this connection so will carry on with this. 

We’ve also run multiple versions of a workshop in different time zones where it wasn’t practical to have everyone in one session. We record the whole session and then cut together a short video for people to watch and still get the same experience from listening to people speak (not just getting a written summary which for some people, doesn’t bring it to life). 

Where people spend a good amount of time together in an office etc. either as part of a hybrid model or fully on-site, it makes sense to bring them together in person if you can.  

What is the topic? 

If you are trying to deliver information to people then this doesn’t need to be synchronous (at the same time), so we offer e-learning and the knowledge-building part of our sessions upfront so that people come along ready to talk about the topic. This complements flexible working and allows people to take the information in at a time that suits them for learning, but it should still be enjoyable and interactive with quizzes etc, not just reading documents. 

I keep reading that people are ‘over webinars’ and then they use this to apply to live virtual training. I think we all went to many boring webinars during the pandemic where people had their cameras switched off, there was no interaction or participation, or was maybe ‘death by PowerPoint’. To be honest, you can attend a rubbish training session delivered in any format, and death by PowerPoint is just as bad IRL as it is virtually. 

 The other question here is whether you’re trying to help people with their skills or relationships in a virtual, hybrid, or in-person environment. If you’re trying to help people to deal with customers or each other better and the relationship is mainly virtual then the training environment should match that. We’re always surprised at how many people don’t know how to use the tools on Teams and Zoom to make meetings more interactive by using the breakout rooms etc so this is part of the learning.  

Who’s on the team? 

Many people assume that everyone prefers to be together in the same physical room for training, but this just isn’t true. Some people who have more introverted preferences have told us they prefer the virtual training environment as they are safe in their space at home, with the screen between them and the other participants and this helps them to open up. If I’m honest, I find that the choice of whether a workshop will be run virtually or in IRL often depends on the preferences of the leader or person booking it. Sometimes having a mixture of virtual and in-person sessions accommodates all preferences better. 

 Convenience, cost, and urgency  

We currently have a much higher demand for in-person training, but it takes more time to plan to get everyone in the same place. The costs are being to be higher in terms of travel as well. So, if you need something urgently for half a day, virtual can often be organized quicker. 

How long should a workshop last? 

Whilst we’re getting higher demand for in-person workshops we’re finding that people get tired during an intensive session that lasts for a full day so this needs to be planned differently to make it even more interactive and potentially needs a different venue where people can change rooms or go outside to keep energy levels up. We think that the optimum length of a workshop is 2.5-3 hours if people need to be thinking and listening intensively. 

Want to chat about finding the right workshop? Get in touch today. I’ll help you increase your self-awareness and adapt your style to become the leader you want to be.

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