The Value of In-Person Training

I just facilitated a course at a recent Conference and it felt great being at an in-person training session again. I enjoyed seeing people’s faces and reactions as we discussed the information. The part I liked best was the interaction between the attendees and how they shared their experiences with each other. Even though I am the facilitator, I never want to be the smartest one in the room and often learn from the experiences of the attendees as they respond to the training through conversation.  Sharing information is what makes in-person training most effective.

Classroom Shot Shoemaker ArticleThe conversation through in-person training is key. Like many others, I presented courses virtually due to COVID-19. I say “presented” because I never felt like I was facilitating as interaction was difficult to achieve. People were either sensitive about talking through their computer or hesitant to turn on their webcam, and with persistent technical difficulties it was tough to engage attendees in conversation. That conversation is what I missed most when we were locked down and only saw people through small squares on a computer screen.

To ensure attendees get the most out of an in-person session, I suggest they think about their business as they participate and listen for things that they can identify as concerns. This allows them to focus on areas that can bring them the most value as most often they are trying to gain knowledge to tune up areas in their business that are weak. Once you identify areas of focus, it is a good time to interject your thoughts. Asking a question will allow you to gain insight from other attendees that either have a similar focus or have worked through the same situations.

While I was facilitating a paint material profitability course and started talking about waste, a person in the back of the room said, “That is my problem right there. I didn’t realize it until now, but I know from listening to you that we are mixing too much paint.” This brought on a discussion about how to determine the quantity of paint to mix, how to realize what is too much and how to make corrections. It wasn’t the overall theme of the course, but through this attendee’s interaction we helped several people find a solution to a situation they had in their facility. That interaction probably would not have occurred if the course was presented virtually, and it brought great value to the training.

As I mentioned, many courses have a theme, but within the theme there are secondary topics that might be more important to you. My plan with this article was to show you that it is not necessary to absorb everything presented, but to rather pull pieces from the course that make sense to you and your business. Since training must be applied to be useful, make note of the items you can apply right away as you go through a particular course – things that would require some changes to implement while you and your staff may need additional training for others. When you return to your business, you can gather your team to discuss what you learned. Use the ideas they present to gain their support for implementation and develop a successful game plan to move forward with your business improvement.

John ShoemakerJohn Shoemaker is a Business Development Manager for BASF Automotive Refinish Coatings – North America. John facilitates collision industry related courses throughout North America, is an I-CAR Platinum Auto Damage Appraiser and achieved the Accredited Master Automotive Manager certification through the Automotive Management Institute.