The success of training and coaching interventions has traditionally relied on face-to-face interaction. The idea is that engagement is higher and more fruitful when facilitators and coaches are able to address the individuals or groups in person – and, naturally, retention is higher, and people take away more from the sessions.
However, COVID-19 and the implementation of lockdown restrictions altered this reality and turned the coaching industry on its head. Coach and Coachees, Trainer and Learners were all forced to embrace the digital platforms, and the process has been a shift for many.
“Over 90 percent of my current training, facilitation and coaching is now done virtually. I had to adjust learning material and presentation style to the new reality for online presentation and facilitation. It was a huge learning curve,” says Shan Moodley, award-winning TV/film producer and Coach at Media Africa.
And while the switch to virtual engagement has its pitfalls – including disengaged learners able to “mute and switch off their cameras while they attend to other chores” – there’s room for virtual training to at least co-exist alongside face-to-face interventions long after the pandemic, in a hybrid model.
“Businesses and teaching institutions have seen the value of virtual teaching, as it saves time, money and has a high, wider reach resulting in an economic rethink,” he says. “Personally, however, the excitement of being in a classroom, interacting with learners, reading body language, non-verbal reaction and especially facial expression is invaluable as to me as a practitioner.”
The pandemic may have plunged the training and coaching industries into the digital era before it was fully ready, but embracing this change has ensured trainers, facilitators and coaches like Shan are able to future-proof their businesses and professions ahead of future unforeseen disruptions.