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How to make hybrid training engaging and impactful

In the past eighteen months, a new type of training delivery emerged – the hybrid model. In a nutshell, hybrid training means that some participants are in the room and others (including the facilitator at times) are not. There is a lot of flexibility involved, and even if you think it's not the optimal idea, it's best to be prepared for all events.

Due to numerous reasons, from people working remote far from the office and child sick days to regional quarantines or snow situations, there's always the chance that one or more people won't be making it to the in-person training — and you'll need to accommodate them.

So here are a few ideas on how to make hybrid training not only work for your organization but also be as engaging and impactful as possible:

Be prepared

One of the essential rules of classroom training is for the facilitator to be in early and test to ensure that everything functions as it should. The table and chair setting needs to be correct. The laptop or tablet should be easily connected to a projector, and the image should look good – veterans like me will never forget the curse of the keystone when you could never quite get that perfect rectangle on the wall.

To be ready for hybrid delivery, you need to practice with the technology you'll be using in the space you'll be facilitating. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Video
    • Check if all the participants can see you and each other (whether they are in the room or connected remotely);
    • You should test your motion rage – where can you go and still be seen by everyone;
    • Figure out the eye-contact angle for your online audience – this is very important because otherwise, it will be awkward when you address them;
  • Soundcheck
    • Make sure your microphone works, and the volume is appropriate;
  • Sharing options
    • All participants should be able to see the presentation and all the other materials you need to render;
  • Collaboration tools
    • These are essential, as you want everyone to participate and share their input and their questions.

Read more: 5 Tips for making Zoom training more engaging

Establish and explain the workings

Hybrid training has a lot of particularities, so you'll probably have to make different rules for each situation. You will need to instruct the audience on how to participate: ask remote attendees to keep their camera on and their microphones off unless they are speaking to the group and establish the procedure for speaking for those in the room. It's best if everyone says their name when they talk to avoid confusion.

As a facilitator, you'll have to check in often and make sure everyone sees the visuals, hears the conversation alright, and manages to answer questions or share their thoughts. Even if it’s difficult, try to keep a tally of how much each person contributes so you can then engage those who seem to be disengaged. However, you’ll have to be gentle in your approach, so nobody feels put on the spot. The goal is to have a positive learning session, which can only happen if everyone is comfortable.

Read more: How to foster a positive online learning community

Adjust your facilitating technique

If you thought keeping an audience engaged through online training was a tall order, wait until you have to deliver hybrid learning. The key is to keep all participants engaged equally – the ones in the room and those connecting from their homes or remote working spaces.

There is no universal set of magic rules, but here are some useful tips:

  • Be dynamic even if some of the participants are online – move around the room, stand up when you don’t need to be at your laptop to share something, change your position when you are forced to sit in the same spot for a long time;
  • Be very sure of the content you are delivering – if you have this covered, you'll have a much easier time focusing on the way you are delivering, and it will significantly improve your performance;
  • Make eye contact with the remote participants – if you treat your camera like a person in the room, this is easily achieved;
  • Use the real-time chat as much as possible because this will give everybody a chance to share their input and feel like a part of the learning experience.

Read more: What to consider when designing virtual training sessions

Closing thoughts

Hybrid learning might not be the method of choice for any trainer, but today's reality makes it imperative to make it possible. Furthermore, this type of training must be efficient, so instead of focusing on its down points, instructors should strive to perfect their skills to perform well in such a setting.

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