You’ll Never Have To Sit Through Such Again

You’ll Never Have To Sit Through Such Again

By: John Hill


“I promise I will never have you folks sit through another presentation like yesterday…………….I deeply apologize”. Those were the words spoken to us by our events organizer. We were in Savannah, Georgia just a few years ago where over ninety progressive thinking shop owners were meeting for our annual event. We were there for three days and each of us had invested considerable funds to make it to the event.

The organizer was speaking to us first thing in the morning after we had been part of a presentation by two people that were clearly unorganized and not able to effectively deliver their message regarding using social media for marketing. They may have been extremely intelligent people, yet they were not very good at presenting to a group our size. As I sat through their program the day before, I knew something was way off track yet I endured mostly to appear polite. I got very little from their program like most others in the room that day. I was somewhat shocked to hear the organizer apologize for something kind of out of his control.

With the current situation we face, in person events training has become much more provided online. Training via Zoom and Teams are regularly playing on one of the multiple monitors in our store’s “command center”. When something really gets good, we will go back and review the recording. I often have access to some rather high-ranking presenters that I may not have been able to see live. The savings in time and expense is unbelievable. Plus, if the delivery isn’t what moves us on a particular day, we can simply let the program play in the background. We don’t have to be embarrassed by getting up or even worse…..nodding off like in a live event. And as an owner I will mention the savings happening when I want to take three or more people with me. I don’t have the expenses of airfare, meals, hotels, or etc. like when attending in person.


“Command Center” at Autotrends


I think back to when my daughter was working full time and attending college. She kept telling me she really liked the online classes and apparently did pretty well with them. She did have to be on campus some days, yet she could work her schedule around the online classes which often took place at night. The fact that she didn’t have to travel back and forth to school multiple times during the day (like I did during college) provided her with much more time to do things.

We have found that the online delivery is highly effective when things are kept in segments under one hour. Let’s admit; we can come up with some pretty real “one-hour excuses” to delay things in order for us to participate in a training event. In some of my Chamber of Commerce leadership meetings the organizer will break us into smaller groups so that we may dive deeper into a particular subject that maybe the entire group wouldn’t have been so interested in. When there are multiple presenters we will move around in the small groups much like going to different meeting rooms at a live conference. Pretty cool stuff and I’m really appreciating the technology more and more. Things are steadily improving since the early online events that were happening in early April this year. It’s great to see our creative forces join and come up with some true options to being live and onsite at an actual event.

We’ve had our service writers training online for years. Some programs would require they be in person somewhere for a few days at the beginning of a program with the remainder to be done back home at the shop over a period of six months or so. Most such programs nowadays have transitioned to a full online model. For management training, most trade groups have really stepped things up asking their members what they would like to hear more about. A prominent speaker is found and the meeting is set. Participants can come in when they desire and even go back to watch the recording.

Technical training has been available online for years. It was challenging getting the techs to attend no matter what the subject for a recorded program. With the live presenters and live audio/video, attendees can fully interact with the instructor and others logging into the presentation. I have several friends that are high school and community college instructors. Most of them are live in person at their school’s shop/classroom when presenting each day so they can use the familiar props students recognize from their onsite attendance.  For most of them, there has not been nor will there be students in their classrooms for a while as it appears. Some are getting small groups of students onsite for select events. Most of them are getting really good at using online components for their technical classes. I see the most success with the instructors getting the classroom portion handled online and hopefully soon meeting in person with the students for the hands-on portion. True some participants get things best when using their hands, yet we’re figuring out how to adapt to the situation we face.

There are some really successful programs like Today’s Class and Gearhead School that are keeping things interesting as they track the progress and provide reports to the shop owner of each person attending. Most universities in my area have had an ever-increasing online curriculum for the past several years. Many have more online than on campus students registered. I talk with students often who may be attending online classes for a college in another state that have never actually been onsite at the school with which they are participating and they can graduate with a regular diploma having never done so.

For all of us, there are new ways of doing things coming at us every hour of every day. For me it’s exciting and I want to see more of it. I can’t wait to see what’s next. I also look forward to the in person events as there are some things you just can’t handle online. Comradery seems to happen the best in person for me so I’m confident that element will not go away. The after-class time spent hanging out with friends always benefits me far more than anything happening in any kind of a class room.  Adding the new ways will only make things that much better.