Thinking Outside the Training Toolbox

In today’s ever-changing landscape, organizations needs to be open-minded, willing to change, try new things, and think outside the box (whether that’s the training box, your industry box, your process box, your content box, or any other box you’re currently inhabiting).

During a recent conference call, my knee-jerk reaction to a potential content collaborator’s suggestion was: “But that’s not really the type of content we post, and that’s not the way our process works.”

The words echoed in my head for a few beats, followed by a mental head slap.

Ugh! Did I really just say those words after 15 years of preaching about how important it is to be open-minded, willing to change, try new things, and think outside the box (whether that’s the training box, your industry box, your process box, your content box, or any other box you’re currently inhabiting)?

Sometimes even if it ain’t broke, it still could benefit from some tweaking or a new approach or inspiration from a new source. Hopefully, the cover line of this online-only issue will serve to remind me of that notion the next time I start a sentence with “But” or roll my eyes about suggestions to do something differently.

A Modern Twist

Compliance training is often one area where companies keep on doing what they’ve been doing, figuring there’s not much they can do to make it more engaging. But today, there’s an opportunity for compliance and HR leaders to reevaluate the effectiveness of their current training methods and optimize them for a hybrid, digitally connected workforce—see “3 Ways to Modernize Compliance and Ethics Training.”

Sales training likewise often can benefit from some updating, as companies frequently stop training sales reps after onboarding, figuring they can “learn as they go” rather than lose precious selling time in the field. But, as HFX Training Director Jeremy Lovelace notes in “Training Simulations Are the Perfect Motivator for a Sales Team,” high-performing organizations are finding that learner-led, collaborative, and engaging training modalities such as computer-based simulations are likely to play an increasingly vital role in preparing sales forces for a data-driven future. Indeed, AI Conversation Simulation provides hyper-realistic, immersive and active learning experiences. Click here to find out how it can prepare agents to deliver empathetic customer experiences and peak performance starting with their first live call.

Virtual Verve

If you’re looking for some tools to boost online engagement as the future of work trends toward a hybrid model (some combination of in-office and remote work), you might consider in-app videoconferencing, multi-instructor mode, analytics panels, integration with learning management system functionality, and content panels as detailed in “5 Hands-On Tools to Help Trainers Increase Online Engagement.” Another option to consider is a learning simulation platform, which acts as an upskilling accelerator, engaging learners while delivering measurable results—in many cases, as much as 20 to 50 percent skills improvement.

Video coaching also can be very effective—in fact, 74 percent of respondents said virtual coaching and mentoring is just as effective, or even more effective, than traditional coaching, according to an survey (see “The Real Benefits of Video Coaching”). This is especially true in onboarding in the hybrid work model, as organizations need to create a virtual-friendly new hire orientation process that includes both synchronous and asynchronous communication tools and a mentor/mentee system, notes Matt Bradley, senior Learning & Development advisor at Open Sesame, in “Industry Solutions: What Have We Learned About Hybrid Work So Far?”

Check Out TechLearn in Texas

Attending our upcoming TechLearn 2022 Conference September 20-22 in Austin, TX, can help you make the most of the training tools you have, plus discover new tech and applications you didn’t even know existed. Choose from more than 55 engaging breakout sessions over two days, and see what’s cookin’ in the Training Test Kitchen, which will feature 45-plus technology and design demos.

Session and demo topics include:

  • eLearning
  • Mobile Learning
  • Social Learning
  • Adaptive Learning
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Augmented Reality
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Virtual Classrooms
  • Games and Simulations
  • Instructional Design
  • Development Techniques, Platforms, and Tools
  • Implementation, Measurement, and Strategy

Download a brochure to learn more and click here to register. You’ll get an automatic $200 discount on the TechLearn Conference with the Early Bird Rate.

I’d love to hear about some of the tools and delivery methods you are using (or planning to use) in training. Please click here to participate in our 2022 Training Industry Report Survey and share your insights. You’ll be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win one of two great prizes: a free Training 2023 Conference registration ($1,895 value) Feb. 13-15, 2023, in Orlando, or 1 of 2 AMEX $50 gift cards.

Reaching the APEX

One valuable way to analyze any potential training delivery or technology gaps in your organization is to apply for our Training APEX Awards, which recognize excellence in employee training and development. Companies apply by filling out an extensive application form. All applications are judged quantitatively by an outside research company and qualitatively by our Training Hall of Famers and me. ALL Training APEX Awards applicants receive a feedback report and qualitative scorecard and are offered the opportunity to have a call with me to go over their results and identify potential areas for improvement. To download the 2023 application and the qualitative and quantitative scoring guidelines and find additional information (including answers to frequently asked questions), please visit this link (the links to download the application and scoring guidelines documents are at the top of the article page):

I’m happy to answer any and all questions throughout the application process up until the deadline of September 12—just call (516.524.3504) or e-mail me (

Here’s a quote from Denis Watley for inspiration:

“Winners take time to relish their work, knowing that scaling the mountain is what makes the view from the top so exhilarating.”

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.