Most people feel invisible in large conferences or training sessions, and this statement holds true whether they are sitting in an actual room full of people or are “participating” (and we use that term loosely) in a virtual environment. Large trainings, in some regards, lead to a “mob mentality,” inasmuch as attendees can feel like they’ve lost their voice and their individuality and sense of accountability.
One of the best ways to empower the greatest number of people during training and avoid the mob mentality mentioned above is to incorporate small group training, or “breakout sessions” in your virtual training sessions. Small group learning fosters individuality, encourages engagement, facilitates ideation and increases retention.
If you look at a bed of gravel, you tend to see it a unit. But if you pull five or six stones out, it’s much easier to see the differences in size, shape, and color among them. You can see each stone for what it contributes individually to the unit.
Similarly, in a virtual learning environment, the larger the number of attendees, the less opportunity is available to treat the members as individuals and offer the differentiated training that allows for personalized learning. On the other hand, when you break your team into smaller groups by utilizing Jigsaw Interactive’s virtual customizable breakout rooms, team members are empowered to show their personal strengths during training and let their individuality shine.
Small group learning is also a great way to encourage engagement with members of your team who may be tempted to “zone out” in a crowd, or who simply have a hard time speaking in front of too many people. Many — possibly most — of us feel a lot safer speaking our minds and sharing our thoughts with a smaller, more intimate audience.
In smaller breakout sessions, attendees don’t feel quite so invisible. Their sense of accountability for participating in and contributing to the proceedings is heightened because they know they are present and accounted for, and their contribution counts for something.
Along the same lines, breakout sessions are a perfect opportunity for attendees to voice ideas, make observations, or ask questions in a way they might not feel empowered to do in a larger group setting, where they may not feel heard. Brainstorming, by definition, requires a group of thinkers, but too large a group hampers rather than helps that process.
When smaller teams come up with new concepts that might have been drowned out by more vociferous members in a bigger group, each team can then come back to the larger group later and share their ideas. At that point, far more ideas will have been generated from which decisions can be made.
Retention of knowledge is definitely impacted by the amount of “doing” by a participant. Given the three items above, everyone is empowered, engaged and active. That naturally leads to a higher level of ownership, understanding and retention.
When it comes to your VILT (Virtual, Instructor-led Training), make sure you have all the tools to incorporate every best practice that will make your training engaging and productive. Jigsaw Interactive gives you those tools, including the means to break your team into small groups where you customize the information in each room to promote differentiated learning and better project work.