With many of us returning to the office while others remaining remote, hybrid meetings have become commonplace in the workplace. Many of our clients have made sophisticated equipment upgrades to ensure their hybrid meetings are as efficient, productive and collaborative as possible.
The game changes when individuals are learning skills like communication and influence. It is important to immerse the participants in the content with as few distractions as possible so that they can easily learn, collaborate and apply the content to speed their retention and adoption.
When we say, “hybrid training,” we mean delivering the same program to people learning together at the same time – with some joining in person and some virtually.
The trend toward hybrid learning is on the rise for corporate professional development. Among the 700 global respondents to the 2022 “State of Virtual Training” survey from Cindy Huggett, 62% of respondents said that their organizations are either already offering or planning to offer hybrid training classes soon.
While hybrid training can be designed to be engaged and effective for all participants, it is not always the best choice. Just because you can use hybrid delivery for your training, it’s not always the best call, especially for communication skills training.
5 Questions to Help Assess If Hybrid Training Is the Best Call
Rather than jumping quickly to hybrid delivery, slow down and consider these five critical questions before making the call on hybrid delivery:
- Is creating a single shared, simultaneous experience essential to your overall objective?
Sometimes your training session or event includes an announcement or experience that needs to be shared. It could be that you want to tell the participants about a big news announcement when the group is gathered. Or, you might be training them on how to tell clients about a top-secret new product you want them to see for the first time. Another instance is when you have limited time with a special facilitator, speaker or guest and you want to be sure that everyone gets the chance to interact with them.
- Are the participants an intact team?
Team leaders usually have goals for a training event beyond the actual learning. Bringing teams together in this hybrid work era give people the chance to form deeper social connections and get to know each other on a more personal level. For distributed teams, training experiences are essential for culture building. An intact team may see downsides to splitting the group into separate virtual and in-person sessions. They might feel a sense of inequity about the experience or just a fear of missing out or “FOMO” (fear of missing out) on the conversations happening in the “other” group.
- Is the training content time-sensitive?
Many companies today are racing the clock to bring new products and services to market as they face competitive pressures. They can’t afford to delay training even for a few days to run multiple sessions. Or, perhaps you are trying to onboard new sales professionals to fill territories that have been sitting open and speed is of the essence. Hybrid delivery can allow you to reach everyone at once.
- Are you training a group of fewer than 25 people?
Keep in mind that the larger the group, the more challenging it is to include virtual participants and make them feel like they’re getting the same experience as in-person participants. Additional resources may be needed to facilitate and monitor all participants in large hybrid training sessions.
- Is the training material already designed for a hybrid learning environment?
If your training material was designed for an in-person or virtual environment specifically, it most likely will require a design update for the hybrid environment. You’ll want the design to allow both the in-person and remote participants to practice, discuss and engage with each other and the materials in the same way in the hybrid training environment. Otherwise, you take the risk that either set of participants may feel excluded.
If you answered “yes” to the majority of these questions, then hybrid delivery is a likely a good option for your training program. If most of your answers are no, then you might want to consider using a single mode of delivery or delivering the training simultaneously in deliberate groups who will best benefit from training virtually or in-person.
It’s risky to assume that hybrid training is just like virtual or in-person learning. Rather, it requires a specific training approach with intentional design, technology and content to be successful.
Whatever you decide, the core principles that are the foundation of great soft skills learning experiences still hold – building relationships, encouraging communication and learning with impact.
Still not sure which way to go? Read our post “25 Questions to Help You Make the Call on Hybrid Training” to assess your situation across dimensions including audience, technology and facilitator capability.