When the Covid pandemic hit, our company, like most others, was suddenly faced with questions. Questions like, “Yikes! Seriously?”, and “How do we pivot our business?”
Like most companies that offer live training, the most critical – and obvious – change for us was to transition from on-site delivery to virtual delivery. Thanks to platforms like Zoom, the technology wasn’t the hard part. What we were most concerned about was ensuring participant engagement and retention. The biggest question we found ourselves pondering was, how long should a virtual training program be? What is the optimum length of a Zoom class?
The answer to the question turned out to be elusive. The more we investigated, the more we couldn’t find any data on the ideal length for a virtual workshop.
As luck would have it, our very first pandemic-era client had been pondering the same thing, and allowed us to run a pre-rollout experiment for two training modules we had created for them. The results were eye-opening.
The programs had originally been planned as two-day, on-site courses. One was on Internal Customer Service and the other was on Outstanding Leadership. Both were designed to be fast-paced, with heavy focus on interactive exercises and discussion. The virtual training test was built with the same level of interactivity, but developed with three different time strategies in mind:
1. Full-day modules
These groups group received two consecutive days of training, eight hours each day
2. Four-hour modules
For these groups, training was broken into 4, four-hour sessions, evenly spaced over two weeks
3. Two-hour modules
We broke the training for these groups into 8, two-hour sessions, structured into two modules a week for four weeks.
We measured the results with a composite score based on participant feedback immediately following the training, retention of content one month following the training, and managers’ assessment of skill adoption after one month.
The results were unequivocal. The series of two-hour segments won out in every metric, scoring 9.2% higher than the four-hour modules, and a 37.2% higher than the full day training. The most significant improvements were in skill adoption and learner feedback.
A number of our courses run in 2021-2022 were broken into ninety minute segments instead of two-hour segments. While we weren’t able to formally track the results, the anecdotal feedback from our trainers and reviews of assessments suggests that these were almost as effective as two-hour segments, with only a very small reduction in skill adoption.
The news gets better. Subsequent discussions with our clients have also confirmed benefits of shorter training segments in addition to learner satisfaction, content retention and skills adoption. They include:
Less negative impact due to time away from work.
This was particularly relevant in customer service training, where sending a team for one or two full-day’s training was impractical.
Live-environment practice time
Participants had the opportunity to practice new skills In the gaps between sessions – and then discuss the results when the next module began.
It is easier to reschedule a two-hour training workshop than a full-day one. This has proved to be valuable on more than one occasion.
There are undoubtedly situations where there are advantages to longer virtual training classes, but our experience, so far, continues to be that shorter is better.
Outstanding Learning Solutions
Belding’s award-winning training solutions are ideal if you are looking for highly-successful live or virtual in-house training for your team.
Your programs are carefully customized for your team and the specific nature of your customer interactions.
Take a look at some of our courses: