It’s hard to remember just two years ago when most learning and development programs involved gathering everyone in a conference for a “lunch and learn,” attending in-person conferences (mask-free!) and filling training rooms with team members for day-long professional development sessions.
Hopefully, getting your entire team or department together in one physical location isn’t gone for good. But in the meantime, we need to take our carefully drafted learning and development plans virtual.
Of course, it’s never as simple as clicking a button and converting all of your in-person training programs to an online format. Fortunately, we’ve learned a few things about making the switch in the last 18 months, so here are three tips to consider.
Shorten your agenda
There’s a good 20 minutes or so of setting the stage and reading the presenter’s resume in the average hour-long CPE session. However, these hour-long webinars need to fill a certain amount of time, and they often use fluff to fill it.
If that “fluff” isn’t necessary, cut it. You can probably get an hour-long session down to just 30 minutes by getting to your points quicker. If CPE is a concern, it’s possible to offer CPE in 0.5 credit increments, and most attendees will likely appreciate higher-quality learning in smaller increments.
By this point, we’ve all been in webinars and virtual conferences that drag on endlessly and leave you feeling like you wasted half your day on filler content. So instead of providing a full day of training, break it up into four two-hour workshops. Instead of an hour-long webinar, offer two half-credit sessions.
When you can break your content into smaller learning bytes or microlearning opportunities, you’ll better hold people’s attention, which translates into higher knowledge retention.
Build in social time
During an in-person meeting, there’s always a natural social component. People chat during setup or while on breaks and may continue the conversation after the formal training ends. Build these moments into your virtual training.
One way we’ve done this is by asking attendees to bring a photo of their pet or the last place they traveled and sharing their photos as an ice breaker for the first few minutes of training. Not only does this bring a bit of fun to what might otherwise be a dry topic, but it contributes to firm culture and team building by helping people foster a personal connection to each other.
Make it interactive
People tend to multitask or become distracted when learning virtually, so it’s important to intentionally build interaction and engagement into your learning and development programs. Fortunately, technology offers several ways to incorporate interaction into your virtual learning and development programs.
Some ideas for making your L&D programs interactive include:
Creating quick surveys or polls
Allowing participants to collaborate using virtual whiteboards
Incorporating breakout sessions for small-group discussions
Having Q&A throughout the session rather than at the end
It’s one thing to offer virtual L&D opportunities to employees and another to do so effectively. No matter what the future holds in terms of the pandemic, it’s clear that remote and hybrid work are here to stay. Our learning and development plans need to adapt to the new workplace as well. Incorporating these tips will ensure your team and your firm gets the full benefits of every virtual learning
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As a Project Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Jacqueline plans, executes and manages the people, resources and scope of many of our firm’s projects, programs and events. Her primary focus is on managing projects for IT Consulting, Strategic Planning and Talent Consulting. In addition, Jacqueline works closely with leadership to oversee the company’s human resources by managing hiring, onboarding, training and development and overseeing our Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS). She also supports our Allyship for Diversity commitment at BCI, which seeks to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion within Boomer Consulting and the accounting profession. Jacqueline also works on the strategy and development of our eLearning initiatives.