Face-to-face communication for learning and training has been found to be highly valued and has a long-term place in the commercial world, according to research by Loughborough University and imago.

The research, conducted in conjunction with The Right Solution, measured the value of face-to-face communication from a sample of 750 event organisers, trainers, delegates, graduate and undergraduate students.

Emma Boynton, imago’s head of sales and marketing, comments:

“Including students in the research … gives an insight into the minds of future leaders, event delegates, trainers and organisers.”

The research found that the majority (96.6%) of learning, meeting and training attendees find small face-to-face environments with fewer than 10 participants as their favoured form of communication. Students also favour smaller learning environments (75.5%) with a preference for tutorials rather than lectures.

Group interaction and discussion is considered the top benefit of face-to-face communications (78.4% of delegates and 69.4% of students).

An interactive format as a tool to retain information was favoured by both trainees/delegates (81%) and students (72.1%). However, social media was least favourable for both trainees/delegates (15.9%) and students (21.7%).

The increasingly common informal “co-creation” of content also was poorly received, with 52.4 percent of delegates and 43.8 percent of students saying it was a preferred method.

“This data is incredibly important and great news for the learning industry”, continues Emma Boynton, “Support for smaller learning environments was of particular interest.  With only 3.4% of trainees/delegates expressing a preference for large spaces it is clear that organisers need to ensure that group interaction sessions are given as much, if not more attention than plenaries in the planning of large training events and sessions.”

The research also examined the venue, and highlighted that 85 percent of organisers considered it important for a venue to have the latest technology. However, words relating to technology were not mentioned by attendees, when asked what environment ensures the best learning experience 45 percent of respondents focused on the lighting and the amount of natural daylight.

Emma Boynton concludes:

“Data such as the negative feeling towards social media and informal content were interesting to see amongst future leaders and students, who you would expect to be supporters.  Above all it clearly shows that people want to talk to people and technology is a tool rather than the end goal.”