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Why is Live Training like Eating Spaghetti? And How is COVID-19 Killing it?

OK – brace yourselves! I’m delivering training today and for a WHOLE day! I realise for most people this is no big deal – but for trainers globally it’s massive. And that’s because the training industry has been decimated by Covid-19, and specifically Working from Home.

We understand why and, of course, our primary concern is to support employees and organisations. (We are, primarily, motivated by Making a Difference.) Many are migrating to delivering their training online, and some (like us) have been delivering online for years. But it’s a steep learning curve for us all AND, more importantly, most organisations are simply not ready for training. However, thousands of trainers globally have had their work cancelled or postponed, with the prospect of any new training work not even on the horizon. In very real-terms, thousands of trainers are facing the very real possibility of closing their businesses (as the majority are self-employed). Some, like-us, cannot furlough ourselves despite being eligible, as our businesses simply won’t exist. Instead we’re doubling down on everything, on supporting the clients we have, on pivoting and adapting our business, in creating material to demonstrate our credibility.

“In very-real terms, Covid-19 and Working from Home is killing live-training.”

Why Live-Training is Like Eating Spaghetti

With no sign of any imminent reduction in Lockdown, more organisations and employees are starting to look at online learning. Indeed, there’s a plethora out there. High quality, relevant and useful learning can be highly motivating. I’ll explain how later.* Having used online training for years, I know the quality, the level of interaction and CRUCIALLY, how much is actually used, varies hugely. It’s convenient and often inexpensive or free. And yet, nothing will quite replace the quality of learning gained from in-person LIVE training.

In-person group training, with a group that trust and respect each other, enables each person to learn profoundly at an emotional level rather than an intellectual level. It’s the difference between understanding the concept of spaghetti and knowing how it tastes, feels and it’s ability to cover you with sauce. In NLP terms, we embed metaprogrammes (patterns of behaviour) through our submodalities (our senses). The richer the sensory experience, the deeper the embedding – and that’s how we form habits, patterns and beliefs.

The Core Components of the Best Quality Learning

I’ve been a qualified coach for well over 10 years, and (despite my repeated and best efforts to tell people what I think they need to know – hence why I learned to coach), even I’ve learned that people learn best by working it out for themselves and by talking with their peers. Therefore, the best quality learning derives from some core components including:

  1. The individual’s motivation, i.e. how motivated are they to learn this content

  2. How relevant or tailored the training is to each individual – including the trainer’s ability to adjust the training based on live feedback (verbal and non-verbal)

  3. How much they trust the trainer – in terms of the quality of content, but also to be stretched out of their comfort zone

  4. The level of interaction, collaborative learning and trust between participants (huge amounts of team building occur when this is done well, whereas individual online training creates divides)

  5. How quickly and easily the individual can apply what they’re learning (ideally during the learning process)

  6. How accountable the individual is to applying, improving and embedding what they’ve learned (for long lasting effects)

  7. Blended learning – learning over a period of time, using different formats and learning styles, to layer, build and embed the knowledge – before, during and after the live training

The proportion of online learning will increase, as well the overall level of training. Both of these are wonderful! (The reason I’m passionate about personal, team and leadership development is because we didn’t have the budget for quality non-technical training – and I managed the budget! I even paid for my own coaching qualification.) However, if you are a HR Director or a business leader with responsibility for people development or financial sign-off, please put in-person LIVE training back on your agenda. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s the need and power of human connection – of the sensory experience. Together, we can get through anything. Apart – we are vulnerable.

*How does training boost our motivation?

  • Firstly it boosts our Expert motivator - our need to use, demonstrate and increase our mastery, then it boosts (in no particular order – or more exact in a very particular order specific to each person)

  • our Builder – the likelihood we’ll earn more money,

  • our Defender – having more knowledge to ensure we do our job well and increase the likelihood of job security,

  • our Searcher - our desire to make a difference,

  • our Star - our desire for recognition and feeling valued, and potentially

  • our Friend - our desire to be included ( honing our knowledge enables us to both keep up with our desired friendship group at work and to support our friends at work better),

  • and of course it may boost our Director – our desire to be in charge), our Spirit – our desire for freedom and our Creator – our desire to innovate.

A final note: Great trainers always go off script. They are people-centric not content-centric. They have the fluency, the competence and the confidence to lead, match and meet their participants’ learning needs. It’s a dance – and like learning how to dance, it’s just not the same online and on your own.


Susannah Brade-Waring is Managing Director of Aspirin Business and Motivated Performance, and a Senior Practitioner of Motivational Maps®. Their clients are ambitious and big-hearted and include Waitrose, Merlin Entertainments as well as coaching and training organisations and HR Managers in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Hungary.

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