In my last posting, I talked about the various training tools that can be included in a Blended training program. I called it my “shotgun approach” to training programs. If you missed it, you should read it first HERE. Besides the overview, I talked about Flipped Learning, Pre-learning, eLearning, and started in on Video Webinars.
So, let’s continue with Video Webinars. As I mentioned previously, I want a tool that’s beyond the capability of your standard “webex” meeting. I have a need to train a large group in a single session – maybe 20, 50, 100 or even more learners, located all over the country. I also want to be able to show live product demonstrations as part of the training.
Even WebEx or Skype allows you to show the face of the presenter and several other attendees at the same time. And the phone (or VoIP) connection allows attendees to talk to the group. This does help keep things more interesting. And I believe this format can work for things like a pre-training to prepare for a major in-person workshop, or to update existing knowledge, or even as a preliminary introduction to a new product or topic.
But to really take things to the next level for training large groups with demonstrations, you need something more. Something better. And that is the Video Webinar. Not just to show the face of the presenter, but to use a real HD camera (not your web cam) to shoot the presenter as you would if you were making a training video. And, using the same camera – or even a second one – to show product demonstrations. Even zoom in to make it more clear. Add a live chat to the mix, and you have something that’s really engaging. I actually find that in large groups, people are more inclined to participate by chat than by phone – especially younger audiences.
To do this right, we’ll need a real HD camera that can shoot the trainer like we would in a training video. And, we need a camera to zoom into the product that the trainer is demonstrating. This may be a single camera that’s used for both purposes, or – even better – a second camera just for the demos.
So, how can you make this happen? Obviously, there are some hardware, software, and setup requirements.
In my time at Sony, my training team evolved from typical webex sessions to single HD camera sessions to full blown studio presentations with 4 or 5 cameras and two stage settings. Here’s a picture of what we finally got to.
Of course, I didn’t do this by myself. I had a training team and a video guy (yes – I know a guy!) who really did all of the heavy lifting to bring my concept to life. There was even custom software that was developed just for our purposes.
But you don’t have to go that far to put on an effective video webinar. You can start with one or two cameras. We did. Here’s a picture of our first setup using one HD camera through WebEx. That was in 2010, so connecting an external HD camcorder to a WebEx session was challenging.
If you have more than one camera, you’ll need some type of video switcher. This could be a hardware piece or software, depending on your computer and cameras. And, you’ll need a service that can distribute your webinar on the internet. Here’s a great review from Top Ten Reviews that highlights their picks for the ten best companies that provide this kind of service. You’ll see that Cisco’s WebEx is one of them. See? A WebEx can be more than a boring slideshow!
I’m not an expert in all of the technology involved, but I’m a fan of this format for training large remote groups. It saves everyone time and money (no travel), and allows you to train your audience more frequently than you would if you had to bring them all together for an in-person training. And it’s much more engaging than a typical “talking head” and slideshow webinar.
I’ll be brief here. Training videos are an important part of a Blended training solution. They can be fairly easy to produce, and can be posted online where the learner can watch them on their own schedule. Of course, the sky’s the limit in terms of video production, depending on your resources and what you want to accomplish.
If your video isn’t something you want to share with the world on YouTube, there other ways to post them, so your viewer needs approved access. I really like videos where an expert (like a product manager) talks about a certain topic – unscripted. I found that having someone interview the expert makes it better, since they aren’t always skilled at presenting to a camera. It depends on your situation.
Instructor Led Training (ILT)
When possible, in-person training is a very strong part of any Blended training program. Since getting everyone together in one space can be time consuming and expensive, you must be sure you’re using the time wisely. Prepare your audience for the event through Pre-Training, which I talked about in my previous post HERE. Make the most of your learners’ time by focusing on those things you can only do in person, like providing hands on with your product. Make them do the work. Don’t just lecture. Ask questions. Start a discussion. Demonstrate how to do something, and then have them do it. This leads into my next topic – coaching.
There are several ways to handle in-person trainings, and a lot of it depends on who you’re training. It may be as simple as gathering people who work in your own office. Or, you might bring in a large group from across the country and set up a workshop in a hotel or conference center. I managed training teams who were located across the country, and developed the “Key City Training Tour”, where each trainer mapped out a tour of the key cities in their territory, and set up a training in each city. Dealer employees would come to a hotel for a training session – maybe 25-100 people at a time. It was effective, but expensive. And over time, I found it to be more difficult to get people to attend. Bear in mind, I’m talking about voluntary attendance by retail employees.
Certain retailers hold their own multi-manufacturer training events, and it’s good to participate in those for your key retailers. And some companies have large field teams who perform localized face to face training on a much smaller scale – sometimes only a few people at a time. So, you can see that even within a single category like ILT, there are many options. And you can combine some or all of them to get the job done. In my case, we incorporated all of the methods I’ve mentioned here.
Next time, I'll get into Live Coaching, Evaluations & ROI, and Workplace Tools. See you then!