The Shocking Truth
When it was my turn to answer the question of what I was most thankful for at our family Thanksgiving dinner, 2019 and I answered “The great people of American Airlines who took care of me during the 232,000 miles I flew last year to deliver in-person leadership and business simulation workshops around the world.” I never would have imagined in a million years that just a few months later I would be writing a blog about how virtual simulation workshops are in many ways better than in-person simulation workshops.
But we must face and acknowledge the realities of our new normal and think deeply about the feedback we received from a high-level decision maker at a global pharmaceutical company who ran a virtual business acumen workshop for their high potential leaders last week:
- “This was not another PowerPoint, talking head ZOOM call. Our Learners were 100% locked in the entire session! The simulation is collaborative, visual, interactive, and really helped participants grasp the contents and lessons!”
- "I'm easily distracted. This simulation kept me engaged the whole time."
- "I was thinking there was no way I could sit still that long on Zoom. However, I was completely engaged and challenged by this simulation."
- "I never had this engaging of a learning session. Truly awesome."
Over the past weeks, hundreds of participants have engaged in these virtual simulation workshops and here are 5 reasons we have discovered why they are better than in-person:
The ability to surge facilitators to teams that need help
A typical simulation workshop is designed for about 25-30 learners. We then divide the group into teams of five. That group of 30 is supported by a lead facilitator and a simulation support person and their jobs are to go room to room and offer help. In a virtual simulation workshop, we can “surge” facilitators for a couple of hours and offer participants one facilitator per team for the first couple of hours at a minimal additional cost. The integration of the extra facilitators is a game-changing evolution for the learners and one that is impossible to replicate in an in-person session because of the prohibitive additional costs.
Virtual emotional connection
In the virtual environment the video is clear, and the sound quality is fantastic. Everyone is speaking into their computers with headsets or their existing high-quality systems and we are able to establish better emotional connections because we can hear each other better and communicate together much better.
Not physically intrusive
During an in-person simulation workshop, we physically knock on doors and go into breakout rooms. And sometimes just that is an intrusion. We then must squeeze between the teams at the table to see the screen or point out things on the computer. In the virtual business simulation workshop, we can appear and disappear like we are on Star Trek using transporters going from room to room, providing deeper facilitation, more in-depth coaching and just plain chatting that we are available if needed.
Better ability to teach in the moment because I have their data
In an in-person session, we used to have reports and print outs and go room to room to facilitate. In the virtual workshop, I can have a team’s live simulation tool open and give them in the moment training and feedback because I have their current data and analysis at my fingertips. I don’t have to ask them to fumble around the software not knowing what they are looking at or where they are going.
Micro-content and lessons in the moment
In the virtual environment, I am able to pull up micro-content in the areas of strategic thinking, financial management, leading change, horizontal leadership, and much more from our library of content that is at my fingertips, play it for learners, and then provide application to the simulation and back to the real world in the matter of a few moments.
In summary, like it or not, everything has changed. And as we know, change is not bad and there are always pleasant and unexpected positives that nobody could predict. We are now at the point where we can say virtually delivered business and leadership simulations can actually be a better experience for learners and is substantially more efficient and economical for the organizations running them. Higher quality and lower costs are always a winning combination.