Virtual Instructor-Led Training – V.I.L.T. It’s the future for now!

Posted by Belinda Huckle  |  On August 4, 2020  |  In For HR/L&D Professionals

As the saying goes “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.”, and Covid-19 has definitely been the hour of opportunity for V.I.L.T. (Virtual Instructor-Led Training).

Face-To-Face (F-T-F) training and coaching is the gold-standard for learning. Until now, it always has been. All the way through our lives. From education at school and college, to professional coaching in business boardrooms and offices. It’s intimate, interpersonal communication. And it’s the best. We don’t think this will change. But, during Covid-19 another kid has appeared on the block – V.I.L.T. or Virtual Instructor-Led Training – and it’s here to stay. And this kid has a real chance of giving F-T-F training a run for its money! It’s so good because it’s so close to being Face-To-Face. In fact, it is Face-To-Face, just via a screen.

Face-To-Face is history, for now

Woman on a Virtual Instructor Led Training course

If it’s done well, F-T-F training is unbeatable. And, for good reason, it was omnipresent in the workplace until recently. Why? Well for a start it’s human. And it’s engaging, interactive and social. 

But social is now a problem. From travelling to get to the training, to the office environment and the training room itself, social distancing is now the required norm. And with the uneasy feelings many people now have about meetings in groups (from a heightened sense of caution and reticence all the way to outright distrust and fear), compounded by the inability of many businesses to re-engineer their offices to cope with social distancing, almost all F-T-F training has, for the moment, been consigned to the past.

It is now V.I.L.T.’s hour

Tech has been part of training’s evolution, from subtle developments to revolutionary new methodologies, for a very long time (advanced simulations, MOOCs, game-theory, social learning, elearning etc, etc, etc). But the key thing tech can’t do is to replace a real, experienced, coach.

However, with the changed business landscape and the improvement and ubiquity of video-conferencing platforms, live video meetings are now commonplace and familiar. The tech is becoming less of a challenge for many as well. So, if we are meeting together like this, why not train/learn together like this too!

And that is what is happening. Virtual Instructor-Led Training (V.I.L.T.) is now proving to be an exceptionally good substitute for F-T-F training (not a perfect replacement, of course, but better than alternative training approaches including other digital methods like webinars or elearning – more on this later) by enabling ‘virtual’ Face-To-Face coaching, online, with a professional, experienced coach. Its benefits are enormous – it is live, ‘human’, interactive, social, focussed, efficient, flexible, engaging and motivating.

With #workfromhome (whether part or full time, chosen or enforced) now not only likely to be a short, but long-term reality, live online group training delivered by high quality professional coaches to participants in multiple locations around the country, or even the world, is definitely here to stay. It’s a new, apex training method. And it deserves all the accolades it is getting!

The many benefits of Virtual Instructor-Led Training

Man on a Virtual Instructor Led Training course

We have already mentioned that it’s live, ‘human’, interactive, social, focussed, efficient, flexible and motivating. But there are many other advantages.

  • From a practical perspective, the best Virtual Instructor-Led Training programmes recognise they are not a direct facsimile of their F-T-F cousin. They are shorter, modular and more ‘bite-sized’. The benefits of this are that they slot in more easily with participants’ schedules; they don’t pack everything into a single ‘event-based’ session, and they can be easily spaced out to allow inter-session practise/homework/review and even on-the-job learning (so they naturally align with a blended learning model).
  • From a coaching perspective, V.I.L.T. sessions, with smaller numbers of participants, maximise each person’s ‘facetime’ with the coach, as well as enabling questions and learning between participants. Being live they can also accommodate live role play, live practise and even breakout groups, just like Face-To-Face training. And they also generate a ‘team-based’ atmosphere, like good Face-To-Face sessions.
  • From a business’s perspective, V.I.L.T. is also completely border agnostic, with sessions bringing together disparate team members from different cities, states or countries with ease. It’s a truly ‘global’, frontier-less, training methodology!
  • From a participant’s perspective, if they’re now having to present online, learning to present online more fluently, confidently and professionally just makes sense!
  • From an L&D perspective, necessitating no room bookings, no travel arrangements/coordination, and no time-consuming post-event expense reimbursement etc., V.I.L.T. has much easier logistics associated with it too.
  • From an employee’s perspective, it is also highly efficient, with no travel time wastage or ‘out-of-hours’ travel demands, and so can very positively contribute to employees’ work/life balance.
  • From a commercial perspective, V.I.L.T. is also cheaper, removing many costs from the equation – onsite catering, offsite venue, travel and accommodation etc – for coaches and participants alike.
  • From a corporate perspective, it offers a real and attractive bonus for companies’ ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) credentials given that it is environmentally sympathetic (no travel, no facilities, wasted lunch leftovers etc). So, an altogether much-reduced carbon footprint for the organisation.
  • And finally, from a Covid-19 perspective, in these times, there are absolutely no social distancing issues at all with V.I.L.T coaching.

A better digital solution

Young woman on laptop taking part in a Virtual Instructor Led Training course

We believe, because Virtual Instructor-Led Training is so close to Face-To-Face coaching, the experience and the learning outcomes achieved are far better than the alternative digital (virtual) learning methods of webinar (large groups, impersonal and one way) and elearning (solitary, no live interaction and too often just a slideshow video/cartoon with voiceover). 

But, it’s worth saying, of course, that we must also be aware that the end result of a V.I.L.T. programme (the quality of the experience and the learning transformation) is dependent upon the coach and the content – if your coach, or your content, is weak the outcomes will reflect this and be less than optimal!

And Virtual Instructor-Led Training will only improve

The tech and the participant’s ease with V.I.L.T. will get better over time, and probably quite rapidly given the current situation.

Wouldn’t it be great if the next advance in webcam technology produced a camera actually within the screen, not on top of or at the bottom of the screen, so like real life, when we talk to someone they see us looking at them, not down at the screen. Then V.I.L.T. would really become virtual Face-To-Face training!

P.S. The pinnacle of V.I.L.T., we believe, is where the coach is side-by-side with their slides – and we have recently achieved this (by using the new Prezi Video platform). It’s online training like you’ve never seen before!

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Belinda Huckle

Written By Belinda Huckle

Co-Founder & Managing Director

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Belinda is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of SecondNature International. With a determination to drive a paradigm shift in the delivery of presentation skills training both In-Person and Online, she is a strong advocate of a more personal and sustainable presentation skills training methodology.

Belinda believes that people don’t have to change who they are to be the presenter they want to be. So she developed a coaching approach that harnesses people’s unique personality to build their own authentic presentation style and personal brand.

She has helped to transform the presentation skills of people around the world in an A-Z of organisations including Amazon, BBC, Brother, BT, CocaCola, DHL, EE, ESRI, IpsosMORI, Heineken, MARS Inc., Moody’s, Moonpig, Nationwide, Pfizer, Publicis Groupe, Roche, Savills, Triumph and Walmart – to name just a few.

A total commitment to quality, service, your people and you.