My company’s business strategy changed five years ago when we moved from traditional, in-person training, communication and events, and instead committed to mastering technology.

We were seeing the cost of our clients’ in-person training skyrocketing due to travel, facility, entertainment and personnel costs. Add to that, the high employee turnover rate of some industries, and suddenly, your return on that investment is dramatically reduced, sometimes by 50% or more.

We feel this is an ideal time, as businesses cancel upcoming conferences, seminars, in-person training or trade shows, to consider investing a portion of that savings into a long-term

technology solution that can be used for years to come. One that expands or contracts to your size and can be constantly updated to remain timely and relevant.

As an example, consider creating an online training platform that employees and all who represent your business can access to be educated, trained and inspired on your product and brand. Realize that this platform can expand as you grow. It can be offered to new employees who join your company, and it is something that can be accessed 24/7 from a mobile device or computer, from any location worldwide.

I am happy to answer questions on this subject, as our team has used technology to train over 200,000 people on brands and products ranging from fire hose nozzles to valves to tanker trucks to luxury sports cars. Feel free to reach out, and we’ll do our best to answer any question.

Below are some guidelines we recommend in creating the ideal online experience:

• Keep it short. Just as with in-person training, live or web-based training should be limited in length. Microlearning, or small bursts of learning, has been proved to be more effective. Shorter training sessions accommodate shrinking attention spans and reduce the time needed for training. We create microlearning training modules that are two to five minutes long and find they are highly effective.

Drive engagement, make it a game. There are many ways to keep participants engaged with distance learning, one of which is gamification — or in simpler terms, “making it a game.” In 2018, the gamification market had a global value of $6.8 billion. That is predicted to grow 32%, reaching $40 billion by 2024. Whether it’s a spirit of competition, leaderboards, earning virtual badges, conquering levels or anything in between, gamification provides many different methods of motivation that can increase engagement with a training program and contribute to knowledge retention.

Engage, interactively. Distance learning doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Companies can apply a blended learning approach where they offer traditional web-based training programs, but also incorporate other types of learning, such as live virtual training. For example, participants can virtually “raise” their hands to ask questions or participate in live polls. Virtual training also enables collaboration among participants who can work together in small virtual breakout sessions.

Do things you can’t do “live.” Technology such as augmented reality (AR) can actually be more powerful than a live demonstration. For example, if you produce a product that is complex, AR can actually illustrate the inner workings of the product, it can “explode” apart and then come back together. AR, along with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, can be as the U2 song said, “Better than the Real Thing.”

Take it social. According to Statista, the average daily social media usage of internet users around the world was 144 minutes a day. Reaching people where they already are for a good portion of their day can be an opportunity for learning. Social platforms allow learners to ask questions, collaborate with each other, and share experiences and best practices. Companies and their facilitators can answer questions, provide updated information, announce upcoming training opportunities and more.

I suggest we look at this difficult, current situation as an opportunity to invest in the future of your communications and training. Properly done, it will provide long-term return for you and your team. Feel free to reach out to blabov@labov.com if you have any questions or would like guidance.

BARRY LABOV, a two-time Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year and inductee into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, is founder, president and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training in Fort Wayne. He has written and co-authored more than a dozen business books and is a regular columnist in business publications.

BARRY LABOV, a two-time Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year and inductee into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, is founder, president and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training in Fort Wayne. He has written and co-authored more than a dozen business books and is a regular columnist in business publications.

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