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Face to face or online training - which works better

If you had asked me at the start of last year whether teaching negotiation could be done as effectively online, I would have given you a clear "no". For me, the benefits of everyone being in the room were essential to the process. Role on fifteen months and my perspective is quite different. Online training has been delivering excellent results. There are some differences between the processes though and in this article, I highlight some of the considerations to be taken into account before deciding which mode to choose.

Face-to-face - Upsides

  • Participants have ad hoc conversations before training and during breaks which can assist in building cross divisional relationships and improve collaboration and culture in the organisation.

  • There tends to be more engagement in discussions as conversation flows more freely in a face-to-face environment.

  • As a facilitator, I can better monitor small group discussions and provide more assistance and feedback where needed.

Face-to-face - Downsides

  • Participants are more likely to drop out due to other work commitments, feeling that they have to attend all or none of the program.

  • Participation is geographically limited in that staff need to be able to get to the venue. Additional costs are incurred to bring in staff from multiple sites.

Online - Upsides

  • The organisation can benefit from having staff participate across a number of offices. This makes it more commercial for smaller organisations to run programs where they don't have enough people in any one office.

  • Virtual break out rooms allow for small group discussion and interaction as would happen face-to-face.

  • The easier logistics of online mean it can be easier to break a session up into smaller chunks to deliver over time. This allows for more reflection during the learning process.

Online - Downsides

  • Zoom fatigue is real! Many participants prefer not to be online for longer periods of time.

  • It is harder to build engagement with participants as they can be doing multiple things on their screen at once and it is harder to know if they are "present". (I try to manage this by requesting that cameras stay on throughout the session and ensuring there are lots of questions in both directions).

  • Time delays and the fact that participants are generally on mute mean that conversations are less rich

as people are less willing to jump in the same way they would in a room.

Regardless of the delivery method chosen, there are steps that can be taken to ensure the greatest impact and to maximise your return on investment. I'm always happy to have a chat about what you can do to make the most of your training budget.

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