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Is it Live or is it Virtual?

Brian Buck
© Scotwork NA

Who remembers the slogan, “Is it live or is it Memorex?” Some of us will remember buying a vinyl record and playing it once while simultaneously recording it to a chrome tape (metal, if you had the extra dough). From there, we’d store the album and play just the tape — over and over. Eventually, we moved from vinyl to CDs to MP3s . . . and now back to vinyl. The same is currently happening with how we train people. We went from instructor-led live training to CBTs to eLearning . . . and now back to instructor-led live training. But with the advent of virtual, here’s the question we’re most commonly asked: “Is virtual as good as live?”

First, let me be clear about what I mean by “virtual training”: Our virtual training is actually a live, instructor-led course that’s happening virtually. There are real instructors, and they’re teaching a real live class. No recordings, no Memerox. Our instructors are real negotiation consultants, and they’re working with a small group of real people to help them become better negotiators. 

Secondly, you do not have to wear special gear. This is not virtual reality. Our medium of interaction is virtual — that’s it. We conduct sessions over a virtual teleconference platform that allows us to see, hear, and engage with our audience. The only thing you need is a high-speed internet connection, web cam, microphone, and speakers. Most modern-day laptops have all of this technology already built in.

With that addressed, let’s talk about the questions that we’re asked most frequently about our virtual training.


“Is it really the same content as a live event?” YES!

Remember, this is a live event . . . done virtually. The content that we teach and use virtually is the same content that we teach and use in our live events. The only difference is that it’s being delivered in a virtual environment.


“Are you still filming your participants negotiating?” YES!

As we do in a live training, we still film participants negotiating, and we play the recordings back to them so that they can see how well (or poorly) they’ve done. This is precisely how we do it in a live setting. Except, when it’s done virtually, we’re all doing it from the comfort of our own workspaces, instead of in a conference room or at a hotel.


“Is the technology easy to use?” YES!

On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being “hard” and 5 being “easy”), our virtual participants give us a 4.63 rating on ease of technology use. We do a lot to make this as easy as possible for all participants — from detailed pre-course instructions on how to get everything ready to tips for creating a comfortable work environment. But for the most part, our participants just click the links that we provide, and we take care of the rest. And in the rare case when someone needs a little extra help, we’re there to offer that help. No participant is left behind!


“But can virtual accomplish team-building like a live event?” YES!

Admittedly, it’s a little different: After the class, there are no drinks at the bar or group dinners. However, the shared experience is just as powerful virtually as it is live. In fact, training virtually allows broader teams to gather, get to know each other, and work together in different ways. Oftentimes, our live audiences come from the same regions or work in the same locations, so their exposure to others within their organization is frequently limited by geography. Working virtually breaks down such limitations, allowing people from coast to coast to work together without having to jump on a plane to do it. 


“Can people really stare at a computer screen for that long?” YES!

Think about how much we stared at our computer screens before the world went virtual. According to a Nielsen study, in 2019 adults spent more than 12 hours a day staring at a screen (TV, computer, tablet, etc.). I’m sure that’s increased significantly during the pandemic. Suffice it to say, people are not having any issues spending six or so hours a day training with us. But there’s more! We schedule lots of breaks, so that people can rest their eyes and stretch their legs. In the end, virtual participants don’t report any issues in terms of staying engaged, participating, or learning during these sessions.


So, what are the biggest differences between live and virtual? Lots . . .

I could go on and on about this topic, but let me highlight three of the greatest advantages I’ve seen with virtual . . .

  1. Total cost of training (TCOT) is much lower for virtual compared to live. Some clients who flew their teams to a central location for a live training would spend almost the same amount of money on travel and expenses that they would on the course itself. Our clients are seeing a 15% to 50% reduction in TCOT by going virtual.
  2. Everyone has a voice. Unexpectedly, we’re finding that the virtual medium allows for all voices to be heard. No longer are the big, more extroverted personalities overshadowing the quieter, more introverted personalities. The virtual medium creates a more level playing field, so everyone feels comfortable to contribute and participate.
  3. For many, virtual is more like their reality. We were already seeing a trend toward fewer negotiations happening face to face. With the pandemic and a more general shift to virtual workforces, negotiations are increasingly taking place virtually. Therefore, the virtual course emulates what people are experiencing in real life — virtual negotiations. It also means we can re-create scenarios that participants are dealing with every day, in order to help them better succeed.

Someday, live events will return. When they do, I believe that even they will be different. But one thing is certain: Virtual events will not be going away when the pandemic comes to an end. Moving forward, many organizations will opt for virtual as their primary medium for skills development. 

As for the question, “Is virtual as good as live?” The answer is YES!

Still Uncertain About Going Virtual?

When the pandemic is long behind us, organizations will continue to rely on virtual skills development, and negotiations will continue to take place in virtual settings. Which is why we’re leading the way in virtual negotiation training, maximizing the medium to assist you with getting better deals, saving time, and creating value for all involved — not to mention preserving and even strengthening relationships. Find out what our transformative virtual negotiation skills development can do for your most critical deals.

Talk to one of our experts today. 


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