Psychologist says virtual professional development is better

While many franchisor executives and franchisees see the shift to virtual meetings and training programs as being a disadvantage, Greg Nathan, founder of the Franchise Relationships Institute, says the opposite is true.

He believes the shift to virtual professional development comes with many benefits, such as greater engagement, better learning outcomes, and better use of people’s time, providing they are managed correctly.

“Not only do virtual events deliver a better ROI, they also deliver a better result in terms of behaviour change”, he says. Nathan, who is also a psychologist, has been experimenting with different formats.

He says in the last three months FRI has delivered 49 professional development program for nearly 2,000 franchisor executives and franchisees, and that these programs have received higher ratings by participants than the face to face equivalent programs.

“People have told us they find these virtual sessions to be more interactive, easier to engage with, and a better use of their time” he says. “The virtual format has also enabled us to involve a global audience and to attract international presenters.”

As an example, Nathan says that more than 50 per cent of participants for FRI’s next Franchisor Excellence Masterclass are franchisor executives from the US, Canada and SE Asia.

“We are now able to deliver a truly international experience, which brings greater diversity of experience and views.”

Nathan suggests the following 10 tips to ensure virtual events are a success.

  1. Space the learning in chunks with no more than two 50 minute sessions in a day.
  2. Use small breakout discussion groups where participants engage with meaningful questions.
  3. Start sessions with a reflective question to get people engaged from the get-go.
  4. Make the use of cameras mandatory and provide training in camera and sound etiquette.
  5. Call on individual participants during the session, but do this in a safe and supportive manner.
  6. Encourage the use of the chat box to create interaction and the sharing of views.
  7. Use polls to gather relevant information and share views of the group.
  8. Include quizzes to test people’s comprehension.
  9. Start and finish on time, and ensure presenters are rehearsed and crystal clear on what they will say.
  10. Have someone dedicated to providing technical support so presenters can focus on participant learning.

FRI’s Franchisor Excellence Masterclass – next session Friday 30 October – provides senior franchisor with access to peer support and the latest strategies in best practice franchising.