What actions do I want people to take after the training?
Do I want to offer principles? A vision of the future? Some possible actions? Maybe a blueprint for the future? How about practice with feedback?
When I want to offer principles or a new future, I choose a webinar. When I want more actions, I choose training.
Webinars offer an Introduction or a Vision of the Future
If I offer a one-hour webinar, I ask people to consider a new future. I might ask people to read more. I might ask them to notice their current habits.
In a single one-hour webinar, I can't ask for much. Very few people can change their actions post-webinar because they need practice with feedback on those actions.
What about a longer webinar? Just as a 90-minute session is too long for people in person, 90 minutes is too long for a webinar, too.
People need a break every 45-60 minutes. (45 minutes is best. They might be able to concentrate for the last 15 minutes.)
Think about how people join a remote meeting:
- They join at least 5 minutes early. If they think the webinar will be oversubscribed, they join earlier.
- They are stuck in their chairs for the entire meeting. (If they have a standing desk, that might be okay. The rest of us sit for the entire meeting.)
- If they're staying hydrated, they really need a bio-break at the 60-minute mark.
And, for a webinar, they're not engaging with anything but the speaker and her slides. Maybe a poll, but that's it. (In my experience, you can have too many polls.)
I can “teach” any number of people in a webinar. A webinar is the same as a conference talk or keynote—with the exception that I have much less interaction during and post-talk. (Sigh. I like the interactions!)
That's why I think of webinars and training as two different solutions.
Online Training Has Different Characteristics than Webinars
If I want people to apply what they learned in the training, I seem to need these characteristics:
- The training has to span multiple days or weeks. (The interval is different depending on whether I'm offering public or private workshops.)
- I need to chunk the information so I ask people to do something small enough and complete it in each interval. (In my writing workshops, I ask people to write every day for 15 minutes. I want them to feel what it's like to build that habit. In my agile workshops, I ask people to work as part of a team for an hour every day. I want them to feel the difference inside the guidelines.) Do people do the homework every interval? Of course not. I can use peer pressure to help them see they can do the homework.
- I offer people the ability to interact with the content in various ways: discussions, interactions via games and simulations, and practice in small groups before the homework.
Those characteristics create different implications for the number of people I can teach.
While I restrict my in-person workshops to somewhere between 16-21 people, I am not comfortable teaching more than 9 people in an online workshop. I restrict the number of people because of my actions:
My teaching actions:
- Check for comprehension. Some people are reluctant to ask questions, either in-person or online. In person, I can see their faces. Online, I can only see a little box with their face. I still want to see, never mind ask in another way.
- Create whole-group discussions.
- Create partial-group discussions or practices.
- Create interactions or simulations to help people understand the material so they can practice as homework.
Yes, I actually create outcomes for the workshop first. Once I have the outcomes, I can create a design. I use these characteristics in my workshop design.
I've also noticed I often reorder the units in a remote workshop. That's part of how I design the experience.