August Highlights: Create a sustainable impact with training

Written by Kai Xin Koh

On September 1, 2020
Without consistent application, knowledge and inspiration will never amount to transformation. 

In this newsletter highlight, I’d like to share some actionable insights I’ve gained last month, which can help you gain visible transformation for your organisation (if you apply).

August’s Highlights

Click on this menu:

  1. L&D insights for the month: must read/watch
    • Learnings from Harvard Business Publishing (HBP)
    • Assurance from HBP corporate learning expert
    • Is your feedback form working?
  2. The future of learning
    • Neuroscience and learning
    • Should we revert to Offline training after Covid?
  3. Programmes to make 2021 even better!

1. L&D insights for the month and must read/watch


To save you time, we’ve hand-picked the most relevant content and summarised them for you:

a. Learnings on Virtual Learning from Harvard Business Publishing (Corporate Learning)

The best practices for learning design advocated by the  HBP corporate learning department have influenced the way our team customises training experiences and solutions. For a long time, I’ve been inspired by their thought pieces and white papers, which are backed by extensive research and data. When they organised a webinar about virtual learning last month, I knew I had to attend. We needed to know if our approach to digital and blended learning is on par with the best-in-class. 

Here are some key takeaways (extract): 

1. The learning process is split into 4 parts: 

#1 Engage 

Establish relevance and need.

How? Through online surveys, assessment, self-evaluation and relevant content. 

# 2 Discover 

Acquisition of new knowledge happens when learners are able to anticipate how to use it by formulating questions and comparing it to what they know.

How? Through different learning channels such as peer discussions, videos, podcasts, articles and the like.

# 3 Act 

Apply the learning in the work environment.

How? Through coaching and other work-based activities

#4 Integrate 

Modify behaviours according to feedback to realise work improvements. 

How? Provide access to a virtual learning platform for content, tools and connections for ongoing refinement.

2. Why do organisations choose virtual learning?

– Better learning impact

– Time and flexibility

– Engages diverse learners

– Consistency and scale

3. Spaced learning for maximum impact

Spread the learning experience over a period of time and in smaller chunks rather than a single event. We’ve covered this in a previous article. This allows learners the time to internalise the content, apply, make mistakes, take corrective actions and learn again. This iterative process leads to a much greater impact.

b. Assurance from Harvard Business Publishing (Corporate Learning) expert

Deanna Foster, the presenter of the webinar, is  Harvard Business Publishing’s Director of Global Design Center of Excellence. I had the privilege to get her feedback on some initiatives to help  learners maximise their learning potential. Some of these initiatives include a 30-day email course and the 1-month post workshop follow up. She assured our team that these are good initiatives, and she offered two ideas that we hope to implement  in the coming months:


Aug newsletter Convo
Aug newsletter Convo 2

Manager’s involvement

Old habits die hard. Applying what’s learnt daily is a deliberate effort and has to be sustained over a period of time to achieve a long-lasting impact. The suggestion given by Deanna was so simple and yet so effective.

Managers have the most influence over a  learner’s progress. Hence, they should be involved in the learning process from the start. This will allow the managers to reinforce the learnings and provide support to help their team members grow. Setting a clear learning and career goals with their managers will illustrate to the team just how invested their manager is in their success. This can be a great motivating factor for the learners  to contribute more and be more proactive in learning too.

Having managers do the same can help us gain a more objective view of the possible gaps and growth, see if there are any discrepancies and most importantly, take corrective actions. This is a level up from our usual pre-workshop survey and post-workshop survey that are made exclusive to learners.  


Peer Support

Learners have expressed how they have enjoyed group learnings as they get to exchange perspectives with their peers and feel more motivated to learn when learning is done together. Sustaining learning after the official programme is over requires a lot of self-discipline. This is largely due to the fact that learners get busy with day-to-day tasks and time is devoted to tackling the most urgent thing. As a result, the learning curve is always steep at the beginning and only flattens after consistent application. The initial momentum of applying new concepts should result in continuous application for it to become second nature.


The suggestion to have a buddy system can help team members, who work together, remind and guide each other in their journey to improvement. Having attended the same programme, they have a common lingo, which helps them collaborate better and hold each other accountable to applying what they have learnt. 

Feature effective feedback forms.005 1
c. Is your feedback form working?

We’ve improved our feedback form to serve the needs of current times: 

  • The virtual learning situation 
  • The learning needs of the future 
  • The focus on helping learners shift from knowledge to skills

If you haven’t adapted your own forms with the above considerations, you will benefit from this recent article that we have published

Examples of effective and non-effective questions included!

2. The future of training

a. Cognitive Neuroscience will influence training interventions

Over the last decade, there’s a growing number of research papers around how Cognitive Neuroscience can influence learning behaviors and shape teaching methodologies. Best-in-class training institutions are speaking more about this to increase awareness. I believe this is the future of adult education.  We can no longer settle with a look-good curriculum and focus mainly on the content of the course.  Gone  are days when the effectiveness of training is mainly measured by satisfaction scores but by tangible outcomes. 

Out of the many scientific discoveries, here’s one you can ponder:

Intentions affect attention to a learning task
Lau, Rogers, Haggard, Passasingham, 2004.

Learners are more likely to act on a learning task and perform better in assessment (a mode of application), when there is a clear alignment of what they are learning and their goals.

What this means to you:

(a) Set clear learning goals with employees before nominating them for courses.
(b) Set clear context on why the course is organised, why they are attending, and how it can help them succeed.  
(c) Give learners a choice to register or to opt-out with valid reasons based on the usefulness and their competency level.

Doing these would give learners a greater sense of purpose and motivation in learning. This significantly creates a positive vibe during the course, draws them to take charge of their own learning and be excited about it. As the organiser of the course, you reduce the need to chase learners for their submissions and you achieve better outcomes for your organisation when application happens.

b. Should we revert to offline classroom learning after Covid?


As the community cases of Covid stabilises and the safety measures are slowly easing, many of you are considering returning to offline learning. While I personally prefer physical live interaction, I have to be wary about suggesting solutions based on my personal biases without prioritising the learning outcomes. Many of my assumptions about the disadvantages of virtual learning were invalidated over the past few months. 

At this stage, I have  also questioned if we should revert to the old ways of training. I’m deliberating between the effectiveness of these two modes. Which should we choose after Covid? 

Perhaps this isn’t about which mode to choose, but about how to leverage the advantages of each modality and tweak the format, duration, activities to maximise the learning output, i.e. turn knowledge into skills.

Full offline: The Pros and the cons
Able to better focus on the course with no competing priorities, able to clear doubts  and seek feedback immediately. I think interactions with trainer and course mates will help make the experience more enjoyable.” 


Best for those who prefers: 

1. face-to-face interaction with trainer and group mates in real time to seek clarification and receive immediate direct support.

2. to time block themselves to learn without interruption.

3. the human touch, which makes the learning more enjoyable and fun.

Disadvantages: Generally, full offline 1-2 day workshops …

– can lead to information overload. Learners are not given adequate time to internalise new concepts, resulting in low information retention.

– do not give time for learners to apply learnings to different aspects of their day-to-day work, take corrective actions, and eventually master the skill.

– do not drive outcomes to the organisation due to its transactional nature.

– do not equip all learners to apply. Individuals who are more pro-active learns more, while others learn passively by waiting for their peers to complete group exercises. As such, the instructor cannot tell if everyone has applied the learnings adequately.

Ways to overcome:

+ Keep Offline training in short-burst of 3-4 hours over a few sessions so that learners have other parts of the day to attend to work duties.

+ Assign tasks or work to learners between sessions to apply their learnings. 

+ Offer coaching or mentoring to support learners on the journey to mastery.

Blended: The Pros and the cons
“Self-paced allows learning done on their  own time and group coaching allows me to learn application and comments from the Instructor and from each other. It allows time to work on application of the concepts on our own time but still share and learn from one another in the group.”


Best for those who: 

1. cannot take a big block of time off for learning due to work commitments and duties.

2. learns better at their own pace and based on their own schedule

3. are serious about applying learnings on an in-depth level to tackle the nuances they face at work. 


Disadvantages: Generally, full offline 1-2 day workshops …

– The learner has no visibility of the process of learning, practise, and application of their peers, therefore, can’t learn from it. They could only see the final output. Example: In an offline presentation programme, learners might be able to see how their peers use certain shortcuts or design hacks to arrive at the outcome.

– Requires learners to be self-directed in completing self-paced modules and complete them seriously 


Ways to overcome:

+ Set learning goals and deadlines to keep learners accountable in completing their assignments

+ Document the process using recording tools or verbally walk group members through the process during live discussions.

Consideration: If you have enough demand for the programme within your organisation, why not offer both learning modes? This way, learners get to choose the mode that best suit their learning needs, which will lead to better outcomes. 

3. Training programmes to ace 2021!

While Covid19 may be gone by then, remote meeting is here to stay. Attention span of your audience is now shorter than ever. Here are some courses to help your team crush their virtual presentations: 

Designing visual presentation for remote meetings 

Learn how to create visually engaging presentations that your audiences will understand, love, and agree with. Adapt your visuals to different virtual contexts like pitching, teaching, discussing, informing etc. It’s time to convert those cluttered text into compelling visuals to communicate more clearly and persuasively! In this course, you uncover design hacks and the S.P.I.L.L process that can help you design effective visual slides in less time. 

Here’s a sneak peek to the course: 

Full suite of courses: 

Delivering engaging online meetings

How do you engage your audience on a small screen? Especially when they don’t show their faces. Utilise public speaking techniques in the virtual context. Put audiences at the edge of their seats, get them glued to your presentation and leave no chance for them to multitask. No fancy technology tools needed. Just your voice, hands, and face. Make your presence felt over the screen!

Digital Marketing: Turn employees into digital brand advocates

Marketing budget got cut? How can you achieve the same results with limited money, resources? The piece of good news is: The best people to market your brand are your employees. 

Why you should turn your employees into brand advocates in 2021:

1. More cost effective and sustainable versus paying influencers and advertisers a hefty sum every month to gain brand visibility.

2. More authentic as employees are the ones who understand your brand intimately and represent your brand the best. 

3. Increase employees’ brand belonging and showcase company culture to attract new talents.

Best for Brand & marketing team

The Employee Advocacy (via LinkedIn) programme gives brands a blueprint to recruit, train and evangelise a core group of employees and transform them into micro-influencers.

This programme will incorporate a self- sustainable content curation and creation process where your employees are equipped with the art and science of LinkedIn content creation and curation.

Developing a virtual team culture
Working from home. You either find yourself overworking or being unproductive. The lack of human interaction shrinks morale and increases frustration. Miscommunication, misaligned expectations, misdirection. You wonder when will this end.
Learn how teams can reclaim their time, get more done while achieving more work-life-balance!
This course transforms team’s culture to perform more productively & effectively online. Uncover the structure & strategy to boost motivation and productivity of your remote teams. 
Data Storytelling

Aside from  leaving your stakeholders bored, ineffective and misguided data presentations can be costly to you and your team. Teams might embark on wrong ventures or be denied access to resources.  Change the story, change the outcome! Uncover proven steps to leverage data to develop insightful and purposeful stories that drives the best organizational decisions. Apply story structures that engage your audience and cut through the noise of data and straight at what truly matters.

Data Visualisation
Are your key messages buried in the endless amounts of facts and figures? Are your audiences overwhelmed by confusing tables, charts, and diagrams? Stop making these mistakes! Learn how to harness the power of visuals elements to clarify key messages in your data slide. You will uncover ways to leverage basic features of PowerPoint/Keynote and Excel to transform complex charts into visually compelling ones. Effective visualisation helps convey the right message to influence the right decision fast. 
Other courses
  • (Digital) Sales & Negotiation 
  • Employees into Brand Digital Advocacy 
  • Investor Pitching/Fundraising
  • Brand Strategy
  • LinkedIn Marketing
  • Social Selling 
  • Effective Leadership 
  • Facilitation (Solution-focused)
  • Critical Thinking for Problem-Solving
  • Creative Thinking
  • Lego Serious Play for Team Building and Innovation
  • Communicating and Engaging with Millennials at the Workplace
  • Mindfulness for emotional resilience and well-being

2021 will be a year of value and returns

As companies are tightening their budgets, there’s an increase pressure to link any business activities to business outcomes. As such, HR and L&D leads will have take on a more strategic approach to organising courses. There will be a shift from once-off training programme to a longer-term learning pathway that sustains learning & application. 

Need more ideas on how to ace 2021 with training programmes? Get in touch! 

Want to gain more?

Client-exclusive Solutions

We’ve rolled out a few new solutions to help learners turn knowledge into skills. Past clients are entitled to these at no additional cost. Drop us a message below – “Hi team, I’d like to gain access to the client-exclusive solutions. Can you share them with me?” and hit the orange button below.

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Article Written By: Kai Xin Koh

Co-founder and Head of training at HighSpark, Kai Xin's super power is to empower high-performing individuals win more hearts and minds through persuasive communications. She was recently one of the only 20 Singaporeans to be honoured on the Forbes30Under30 Asia list. Beyond business, Kai Xin makes time for meditation, is determined to lead her life mindfully, and aspire to unveil the magic of the mind.

Written by:
Kai Xin Koh

Co-founder and Head of training at HighSpark, Kai Xin's super power is to empower high-performing individuals win more hearts and minds through persuasive communications. She was recently one of the only 20 Singaporeans to be honoured on the Forbes30Under30 Asia list. Beyond business, Kai Xin makes time for meditation, is determined to lead her life mindfully, and aspire to unveil the magic of the mind.

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