I write this from under the blast of aggressive air con in a co-working space in Singapore, looking out at a line of skyscrapers that curtain off the bay. That’s not a flex. Okay, it is a flex – but it’s also a fact that points to something we’ve noticed over the past few months at The Writer: clients are increasingly warming up to face-to-face training again.

Face to face won’t always be the right way, and there must always be a place for virtual training: the lower cost to the planet. The low hassle levels – whatever time zone attendees happen to be in.

But we’re excited to be getting back in the (cabaret-style, carpeted) room to work with clients again. Here’s why.

1. We get to max out on communication

Bad news for writers: words supposedly account for just 7% of our understanding when we’re listening to someone speak. Tone and volume of our voice accounts for 38%, body language for a whopping 55%. So being across the table from real-life people means we’re more likely to get them on our wavelength.

(Maybe that’s why face-to-face learners often report higher satisfaction scores than online ones.)

2. It’s easier to spot, and win round, doubters

When attendees at virtual training aren’t convinced about the benefits of tone of voice, or the power of simple writing, there’s a risk they can quietly disappear – popping up to say ‘Thanks!’ in the chat at the end, and otherwise busying away at emails. (Although our sessions are designed with so much interaction, it’d have to be a particularly determined shirker who tuned us out.)

In the room, it’s easier to spot someone who’s not on board – you’ll spy the doubtful looks and crossed arms. And you can deal with that scepticism head on, encouraging them to voice any objections and answering them.

3. Let’s get physical

…Not in a weird way. But a couple of physical elements of our face-to-face training do nice things to our brains. We get participants writing with pen and paper rather than on a laptop – not to fit some sort of quaint Dickensian stereotype. But because the act of physically writing by hand helps learners pick up literacy-related skills ‘surprisingly faster and significantly better’, according to a 2021 study from John Hopkins University.

Plus, being in a different physical space to where you normally do your 9 to 5 – attendees sometimes come along to our office on Borough High Street in London, for example, or hire out a co-working space – seems to give people a sense of permission to scrap their ingrained writing rules.

All in all, it could be time to think about face-to-face training again if you haven’t already, as part of a blended learning programme. Singapore Slings optional.

By Katie Comery, Associate Creative Director