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Top 3 takeaways from 2020 and keeping trainees engaged

The Era of The Screens: What is it in the screen of a TV that makes it possible to binge, watch 7 episodes of 45 minutes in a row? Or get lost for hours scrolling through the feed of the latest Instagram posts from our favorite celebrities? But at the same time, it seems impossible to complete a 30-minute work Zoom meeting without the occasional yawn or having to switch off the camera from time to time so we can recompose ourselves and make it possible to look put together for the rest of the meeting. The answer is quite simpler than one would expect: they are entertaining! As facilitators of content, now more than ever before, it became critical for us to understand that essentially, we have, not one, but two main roles in the learning process of our participants: be a teacher and be an entertainer. Anything from creating games, activities, sudden changes in topic or allow the audience to have time to elaborate discussions and side chats that would mimic the environment of a ¨real¨ classroom can help tremendously on making the experience more organic.

The Generation of The Short Attention Span: The other day I was trying, unsuccessfully, to interest my daughter in the adventures of Hercules, the Disney film that made me and my sister so jolly to jump off the couch and tune in to the channel to get that rush of watching a hero conquer his many adventures. Well, her response was rather the opposite than what I had expected and when I asked her about the reason for her lack of engagement her response was that the movie was simply ¨too long and boring¨ while she immediately proceeded to open YouTube to watch a few minutes of a short clip only to change it to another before it could even end. I was fascinated with how promptly she, as an 8-year-old, would find herself satisfied with understanding the main subject of the content and then disregarding the rest. A recent New York Times study has shown that the average attention span among people who listen to a person on a screen is estimated to be somewhere in the 5 to10 minute span, and often times, towards the lower end of this. This means our audience, who is required to log in to a 9-hour training, is put to the task of forcing themselves to constantly find the motivation to continue listening. And, at the same time, as facilitators, we face the challenge to make our content appealing enough to motivate the participants to do so, all of this in times where social media and creators of content are finding ways to compile complex ideas into small capsules of time. We have no choice but to adapt to these new learning patterns and needs.

The Value of Perspective in a Team: The new home office modality has made it possible for employees to avoid the inconveniences of a long exhausting commute to make it to the office, having to worry about renting or buying property near their employer, in some cases, avoid having to force yourself to interact and share a space with people you consider acquittances rather than friends. At the same time companies no longer have to worry about the logistics of fitting 300 employees in the same space, invest in common recreation areas, etc. This change might seem like an advantage from all perspectives, in theory. However, Avichal Garg, an investor at Electric Capital argues that ¨happy accidents in the office are crucial for innovation. Creative problem solving requires looking at problems differently¨ he says, ¨and having arguments and interactions with people allows you to see problems and solutions in new ways¨. The truth is that we are social beings and as such, we need each other to find solutions and the synergy to carry out tasks that will otherwise seem impossible to carry as an individual. Over the course of 2020 and with the implementation of virtual training, we noticed an increase in people dropping out of training and this responds to the fact that an individual is more prone to observe a task as impossible if he/she finds himself/herself alone to deal with it whereas the sole image of seeing others experiencing the same challenge next to you in the office gives the sense of teamwork that we need to move forward and complete it successfully.

In essence, the most valuable lesson to learn is that the cornerstone of this business continues to be the human task force and all of our efforts should be focused on understanding the ever-evolving needs of these elements but not only from a budget, technology, or even performance perspective but rather the human connections and relationships that, ultimately, make the members of an organization a strong team that can overcome the challenges of these new times.

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