We adapted from in-person to virtual training. This is what we learnt

March 2020

We’d talked about it, planned it, and sent all out the materials. We’d hired a well-appointed training room along with flipcharts, breakout rooms, and catering, all organised for the big day. There was even on-site parking. We were working with an ideal client, in an ideal environment, all set for two consecutive days in the classroom. 

On March 23rd, the UK was locked down, and we could not deliver the training.

June 2020 

Twelve weeks later we were set to go again, except this time we were about to click Start Meeting on Zoom. Our trainees were all working from home, in a range of environments, from home offices, sofas, to a table shared with their partner and babies in the background. We were about to deliver six virtual sessions over three weeks.

Like much of the country, faced with sudden and massive change, we had looked at adapting how we did business. We worked closely with our client to transforming our programme to virtual delivery.

In that first session most of the group hadn’t “seen” each other since the start of lockdown, so we emphasised the personal as well as the business. We explored how the participants were feeling about being at home and how that had impacted their ability to support their team members – and their customers – as well as looking after themselves and their well-being.

It’s been a big change for everyone. We are delighted that our now ongoing virtual workshops are getting the same stellar feedback as our in-person training. What follows are some lessons we learnt over the last six months.

  • Build in time at the beginning for participants to practice using your video conferencing software. We set up our training to make our experience as close to our in-person training as possible. The first thing we did was to ensure everyone was able to use the video chat, whiteboards, and other functionality. Participants became so fluent in Zoom that by the end they were using the software to run their own team meetings and encouraging customers to use the functionality for their meetings, too.
  • Make use of breakout rooms. Groups of three and four were able to work together in breakout rooms, just like face-to-face training. It ensured everyone contributed and no one individual dominated.
  • Allow time for people to find their feet. Managing group dynamics is undoubtedly more challenging virtually and some participants took a while before they were confident enough to speak up in front of their more vociferous peers. We saw that by the third or fourth session that their reluctance had gone away. Each subgroup tended to have a natural “scribe” who loved playing with the whiteboard and towards the end there was an increasing amount of creativity demonstrated with colour, pictures, etc. (and very consistent with their HBDI® profiles 😀 ).
  • Fine tune as you go along. We carefully adapted our face-to-face activities for the virtual environment. With time between each module we could enhance them further and make them even more engaging and relevant based on their preferred learning styles.

Whilst virtual can never replace face-to-face training, we knew it had been successful when participants, at the end of the final module, said unprompted, “I’ll really miss not coming back next Wednesday – this has been a highlight of our week.”

You don’t have to wait until in-person training becomes viable again – a bespoke virtual training can have the impact you desire.

Other testimonials from our virtual training

“Informative, perfectly delivered and facilitated! I learnt new skills, I freshened up old ones, and built relationships with colleagues I don’t usually get to talk to unless there is a problem to be solved. Everyone said how much they’d enjoyed the sessions and that they were already missing not having one next week.”

“I found that the time we spent as a group sharing our experiences was really therapeutic actually and a real ‘stop the world’ moment. I went into my next call feeling refreshed and energised.

“I’ll be going forward with increased awareness! Really useful and fascinating!”

“Really well adapted for those working from home. A very good workshop for making you stand back and really think. It Gives you a different way to perceive yourself as a leader.”