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Which Modality Best Reaches Your Training Goals?

You have a group of trainees. You have stuff you want to teach them – skills, behaviors or information you want them to absorb.

That’s the usual situation before most companies start to design training. But what kind of training will most effectively deliver the knowledge you want to teach, and in the most cost-efficient way? There is no one answer to that question.

Before you fall back on the style of training you know best – maybe hiring a training company you’ve used before and filling a room with trainees – let’s review four modalities to be sure you are making the best choice.

Sales Aids

Sales aids are signs that you put in the right spot. They are called “sales aids” because they were originally placed on the retail selling floor to drive certain behaviors, but you can use them in many settings. You can put a sign in your washroom that says, “All Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning to Work.” If you have a fast food restaurant, you can put one by the register that says, “Remember to ask all customers if they want fries.” Let’s look at some pros and cons.

Pros – They’re inexpensive and deliver information exactly where you need things to happen and behaviors to be changed. And they can be placed so they cannot be seen by the general public.

Cons – They don’t explain why employees should do what you’re asking for. They don’t teach complex techniques or skills. They are simply reminders. But don’t write them off. They can produce the results you want, at extremely low cost.

Leader-Led Training

This is the classic “get `em in a room and have somebody teach `em” training modality. It is often the first option people reach for, and for some good reasons.

Pros – It can be highly interactive. You can keep the per-trainee cost low. It allows hands-on action training for processes and skills (like software and tech systems) more effectively than eLearning or mobile training. It supports discussions, simulations and other experiences that make it engaging, and a good choice for new employee orientation.

Cons – It is hard to find or train good training leaders. If you cut corners on materials, curriculums, etc., the training usually ends up wasting time and money. It is more expensive than eLearning or mobile training because it requires you to pay a trainer, obtain meeting facilities, fly in staff to attend the training, etc.


These are courses that you deliver to company learning centers or to employee laptops.

Pros – It is very effective if you have to train employees who are in a lot of different locations. If designed well, it can be engaging and fun. Unlike leader-led training, it offers consistency of messaging, by always delivering information in the same way. There is a very low cost per trainee.

Cons –  If it is poorly designed, people will dislike it and resist taking it. Although it can include gamification, quizzes, etc., it is generally not as interactive as live training.

Mobile-Based Learning

Training on smartphones is the cool and trendy thing to do – and it is often a great option. But there are pluses and minuses.

Pros – Most everybody has a mobile device. Lessons can be very short and to the point, so training takes less time and doesn’t disrupt work. It is excellent for reinforcing concepts, sending out reminders, and things of that nature.

Cons – It is not a replacement for other kinds of learning, it is best used as an add-on feature. It is a mistake to “shrink” current training programs to run on small mobile devices. Plus, it is difficult, frustrating and sometimes impossible for employees to learn real skills on little screens. If there are hours of information and lessons to take, they will resist.

Which Choice Is Best for You?

That, of course, is the million-dollar question. As you make your choices, I would urge you to consider who your learners are, where they are, and what you need to teach them. Great training doesn’t just happen – you need to ask the right questions first.