BLOG: "You're on mute, John!"

BLOG: "You're on mute, John!" Face-to-face versus online training

Writes Chris Slade; journalist, former BBC News presenter and media/presentation trainer

You’re On Mute John!

How many times have we heard that, over the last couple of years, even if you’re not called John? Yes, it is indeed that long ago the world changed, and so did training.

A good time then to reflect on the great debate of face to face, versus online.

Ask any trainer or teacher, and they’ll tell you online is hard. It’s difficult to keep those delegates watching. They’re in the office or still at home, so it’s a fact, however noble the intentions, that they will struggle to give you 100%. You aren’t there to see them across a room, sense their attention or lack of it, and use that sixth sense any decent trainer has.  

So face to face every time then? 

It’s true face to face brings an engagement that’s hard to reproduce on a computer screen, but is being there always better?

Obviously training online saves all those pesky hotel and travel costs. From the Finance Director’s point of view online will win - fly 12 executives to London from all over Europe like the old days? Not now. There are huge savings to be had.

But you must raise the online game. The trainer needs to engage their audience with a mixture of authority, warmth and knowledge, capable of interacting with their content much like a TV presenter would.

What’s the most engaging screen content? It’s called video. Effective online training needs to look like a TV programme. Technically slick, professional, visual changes, few slides, occasional music, short break outs, video inserts and playback, and……a trainer who knows how to keep a group engaged through that tiny little laptop lens.

A good training company will re-work their material for the online medium. Some may not bother with this, because it takes serious production effort from trainers who know TV. It’s only this approach that can make online a real “yes”.

Truly effective online engagement for delegates brings better learning. Airlines and hotels won’t like it. But the delegates and the Finance Director will.

Chris Slade

Mentor Media Training



Article Author: Christopher Slade

Christopher Slade has spent over 30 years in the industry as a BBC presenter and independent producer/director. He has designed and applied internal and external campaigns for clients such as Volkswagen UK, Barclays Corporate, Heineken, Audi, Home Office, European Parliament, Tom Daley, British Heart Foundation etc. Christopher's creativity and knowledge of ‘the language of television’ will lift your productions out of the ordinary.