Outstanding Remote Learning Needs The Perfect Length
All of us at some point have been bored half to death on a Zoom meeting, conference call, webinar or other forms of remote medium. There are usually two common reasons for the boredom: the first being that the topic is not engaging (or not being delivered engagingly), and the second is that it has been going on too long.
This quick article will give you the information that you need to plan the duration of your virtual sessions....
We feel qualified to give this advice after delivering thousands of virtual training sessions, masterclasses and webinars over the years as well as running hundreds of internal meetings over a virtual platform. Our feedback and satisfaction scores for the external training sessions have been consistently high (averaging 4.6/5 overall), and hence we must be getting something right.
Here is how we do it right:
60-90 minutes - this kind of intervention is OK for giving tips and explaining models or products or processes to your people, but it is not what we would call 'training' in the traditional sense. Out of necessity, it must be entirely one-way, i.e. someone talking and going through slides or screen sharing perhaps, usually, there are large numbers of people in attendance (anywhere from 20 - 250), and therefore there cannot be vast amounts of meaningful interaction.
They can be handy though, but should never exceed 90 minutes. Humans are social beings and need interaction for long term engagement so listening for longer than 90 minutes is a recipe for disengagement.
Up to 2 hours - while some of the terminologies are interchangeable, we see Masterclasses as being much more interactive, there should be an open dialogue between the host/speaker/trainer and the audience, they should be able to ask questions and discuss things between themselves, and hence the number of participants should allow for this, you would certainly be looking for under 25.
Masterclasses are usually on quite a small and specific topic, and for this reason as well as the number of participants (25 is still quite high), 2 hours is plenty before people's minds begin to wander and bums begin to get sore.
The Virtual Training Sessions
3-3.5 Hours - Training sessions develop participants' skills and knowledge and help them grow as people. Hence we need a bit more time here to achieve this. To keep people engaged at their computers for this length of time, we are going to need three things: excellent training that has been designed for the platform and not crudely taken from the 'classroom' format and attempted virtually, a smaller group size to take advantage of the virtual tools that allow participation and input from each participant and most importantly, breaks!
Sitting in one spot for 3.5 hours on a virtual platform is a lot to ask, as is that level of constant concentration. Just because you are not in the same place, does not mean you should not give breaks, people still need drinks, still need comfort breaks and even need to refresh their focus from time to time. By giving breaks, reducing the number of participants and giving the training some thought before applying it to a new platform, you will be able to develop people as well as if they were all together in the same room.
Always Ask Yourself...
To conclude, yes it is great to make good use of time to develop your people, but please think about what you are subjecting them too and what you are trying to achieve before charging off into the delivery of training on a daily/weekly basis that is not going to be fit for purpose.
Always be asking yourself:
- How engaged are they right now?
- How am I keeping them interested?
- What do they need to become/stay engaged?