I recently attended an incredibly well delivered multi-day training program. It wasn’t so much that the content was well put together (but it was) or that the training team was engaging and dynamic (but they were), it was that they did the simple things that are easy to do but are rarely seen in training programs anymore. One of the key factors that made this program so effective is that they clearly could see from a participant’s perspective.
As I was participating in the program, I wrote some notes about components of the training that I thought were particularly effective. This post is also a reminder to me to make sure I remember to include these components in my training programs.
Include the participants
Ask the audience what they think when someone asks a question. Rather than simply answering a question, let the participants test their learning by providing the answer. The trainer only needs to facilitate the discussion. This works whether the material has been covered or not. If the material has already been covered, it is an opportunity to confirm learning. It can be a measure of how effective the trainer at delivering the content. If the material hasn’t been covered, it can be a measure of how well the audience already knows about the question. If necessary, some content can be modified to meet the audience’s needs.
Insert personal stories throughout the training. Keep the stories short and to the point. When a topic is related to a personal example of how you have used the skill, idea, or tool, share the example. This helps the participants find a connection with how they can apply the skill, idea, or tool in their world. The more personal and specific the better.
Keeping time is a way of maintaining your credibility and it is important. When you start on time, you automatically increase your credibility. People are used to training that starts late, waiting for everyone to arrive. When you start and end on time you differentiate yourself from all other training programs. It also honors the participants who show up on time.
Announce at the beginning of the training, that we will begin and end on time (including breaks). If everyone is in the room or if no one is in the room, training will begin. This is a great opportunity to insert a personal story of when you started a training program with no one in the room. The participants will know you are serious. A “count down” timer is also an effective complementary tool (several free programs are available on-line).
This is way overlooked because it is so rare. It is important to announce where fire exits are, where evacuations routes are, where to go if there is a tornado. I was reminded of the importance of this when we experienced a 5.8 Virginia earthquake during our training. Although it wasn’t automatic, we took pretty quick action once we realized what was happening. I think largely because we discussed it at the beginning of the program.
Hands-on practice is a tool to drive home the learning. Once a key concept has been discussed, have the participants apply their new learning with hands on practice. The more senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing) they can experience, the more learning will stick. 10% of what you read will be retained, 20% of what you hear is retained, 30% of what you see and hear, 90% of what you see, hear, and do.
Other examples of what increases the use of senses is to have the participants create content. Have the participants write on the board, create a mini-presentation, or otherwise help deliver content for the class. There is no better way to learn something than to teach it.
I would love to hear your ideas.
What do you do that makes you
an especially effective trainer or facilitator?
What examples have you seen that
make a trainer or facilitator more effective?