When was the last time you were part of a business meeting in an actual room with a dozen or more people? Do you remember that buzz of energy? The interactions and the banter?
So many things have changed in the world since the early part of 2020. The global pandemic has kept us at home and isolated, and it’s changed the way meetings and training sessions are conducted the world over.
The ways we interact with other people have been fundamentally changed
As software and professional skills trainers, we have recently seen—and adapted to—extraordinary changes. As businesspeople, managers, and administrators, you have done the same.
Now, probably more than ever, professional skills are essential to develop. But the way we now learn them may need to change a bit. The way we manage meetings also needs to be reconsidered for a virtual environment.
How has the current climate changed the way we learn professional skills?
Before the pandemic, we would recommend that our professional skills classes could have more participants than our software training. Software training classes are best suited for smaller groups of around 10-12 students. On the other hand, our in-person professional skills classes could have around 15-20 students – perfect for creating multiple smaller groups to practice your newfound skills. But that was then. In-person. Times have changed, haven’t they? Like many of you, we’ve had to pivot from in-person to virtual training.
Now that we are learning these professional skills in a virtual room instead of a real one, we’ve found that it’s better to reduce those class sizes.
What would we now consider an ideal class size for online professional skills learning?
A challenge that online learners face is the natural human tendency of some to want to keep a low profile. Perhaps you can relate to that. Having virtual training classes means that some participants might tend to turn off their camera and hope to blend into the background a bit. Does that sound like you?
There are also potentially more distractions when we’re learning in a virtual environment from home. Children, other family members, or even pets, might need our immediate attention. And there’s sometimes noise from outside that can be harder to block out in a virtual class. That buzz of energy, the banter, the interactions we used to enjoy…it’s easy to lose them in a virtual setting.
For these reasons we’ve seen that smaller classes of between 2-10 students are just about perfect. Smaller groups of this size allow for everyone to have a fantastic experience in which they can collaborate and feel engaged and validated.
We have discovered that having smaller professional skills classes of up to 12 to 15 students is optimal for training, especially virtual training. Smaller virtual classes allow for everyone to have a more collaborative experience and feel more comfortable to participate and engage.
Smaller online professional skills classes allow for more intimate breakout rooms where the students can accurately read the facial expressions of others in workshop demonstrations. They can see the effect on others of the skills they’re practicing and developing in the class. The takeaway is so much greater.
• Accurately read the body language of others, even on a laptop screen.
• See more clearly how the skills you’re developing cause others to react.
• Give and receive invaluable feedback on the professional skills you’re practicing.
• Collaborate better and feel engaged and validated.
Another way that virtual professional skills training is different from in-class sessions is the length and number of modules that can be effectively covered.
When taught in-person, professional skills can generally be learned in one full day of training. However, it can be hard for online learners to maintain focus for more than four continuous hours in a day. Therefore, we recommend breaking down online professional skills training sessions into smaller modules and multiple shorter sessions. This may seem to take more time, but it’s time well spent. It will make your virtual professional skills training sessions much more effective.
Facilitating meetings versus managing a meeting
The current online methods of meeting and learning have also revealed other important insights. People interact differently in an online setting. There’s been a growing realization that we must pay attention to the process elements of meetings if we want them to be effective in a virtual setting.
Managers and supervisors are now often asked to facilitate rather than manage their meetings. Facilitation is the new leadership ideal, the core competency everybody needs. To be successful, one must update their skill set to stay current in this new virtual world.
Managing a meeting is like being an okay host of a party – you want to make sure there is enough food and beverages, that guest invites were sent out, etc. You are more concerned about the logistics than the experience.
Facilitating a meeting is similar to being a super host of a party – you know, the one everyone keeps talking about. You’ve given thought to who’s going to be there and what will be important to them, you’ve got activities so people are engaged and interacting, you’re connecting with the guests asking thoughtful questions and listening and, most importantly, there is a theme that gives the party a sense of purpose.
Virtual facilitation statistics:
100% will make a behavioural change based on the training!
94% Interaction rated
20% increase in skill felt before the session to after the training.
What will participants change and how their organization will benefit:
A big theme is that they’ll plan to:
1. Start out strong
2. Encourage participation, ex. the ping pong method
3. More consistent delivery across their organization
4. More active listening
The way you may have presented or managed your meetings in the past won’t be anywhere near as effective in the new world of virtual meetings. With no formal training, people may find it difficult to make the transition from running a meeting to facilitating one.
Our new virtual facilitation skills courses!
We’re thrilled to announce the release of two new courses that have been specially created to make core facilitation skills better understood and readily available to you and your organization.
These two new professional skills courses consist of materials and ideas that have been tested and refined over years of active facilitation in all types of settings. Use these tools to bring out the best in anyone who is asked to serve as a virtual facilitator.
Our new Level 1 course, called Lights, Camera, Action – Mastering the Art of Virtual Facilitation, will allow you to guide the entire facilitation experience.
• Set the tone
• Build trust
• Reduce stress
• Guide the experience
• Have your staff open up
These are vital new skills you need to develop for the current new normal in holding any business meetings.
Our Level 2 course, called Take 2: Taking Virtual Facilitation to the Next Level, will take you further and help you understand and explore the importance of preparation tools and the participants’ mindset.
• Discover how to genuinely engage the audience in the online experience
• Learn how to ‘read the room’ in a virtual world
• Bring a virtual meeting to life
It can be done, and you can do it. Restore the buzz of energy, the banter and interactions, and fully benefit from the insights of others, even in a virtual setting.
These two new courses are available now, and you can book them with our friendly and flexible booking arrangements.
Our flexible booking arrangements
You can take advantage of our flexibility by booking your training when it’s convenient for you. Whatever your preferences or needs, contact us to talk over your options and make the desired arrangements.
Currently, all our sessions are held virtually to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. When local public health recommendations allow, all our private software and professional skills training will be available to you on-premises, or virtually with a live instructor at no additional cost. If you would like to learn more about our virtual live instructor-led training or would like a short demo of our virtual training platform, please reach out to us.
Are you ready to book your private professional skills training? Do you have any questions?
Learn more about all our training options here. We would love to help your team reach its goals. To learn more about the programs that we offer, please click here for anywhere in Canada.
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