The purpose of this article is to give you some hints and tips for planning your next training workshop and the key information that should be covered in your training plan.
By preparing a training plan before your workshop, you can make sure that you are covering a realistic amount in the available time, and that you only include activities that will help learners get the most from the experience and link to your training content.
When designing your programme, you should include the following:
- Workshop / Training Objectives
- Duration (both for individual activities and complete programme)
- Venue and Facilities Selection
- Activities and Learning Strategies
Workshop / Training Objectives
The overall objectives of the training workshop should state what you expect the programme to achieve in terms of the final outcomes. The objective can be broken down into smaller chunks and relevant activities and training exercises should be selected to help achieve these objectives.
The first step is working out the learning aims for the workshop that is both specific and measurable. Decide what content you want to cover and what should your learners should know by the end of the training workshop?
When deciding these, try and be as precise as possible.
Here are two examples from a recent workshop:
- Delegates will be made aware of the company’s health and safety policy, they will able to analyse risk in the workplace and write a simple risk assessment.
- Participants will create a session plan and teach a ten-minute micro-session to the rest of the group that links to education and its meaning.
The more you understand the training objectives, the easier it will be for you to facilitate learning. Workshop objectives will also provide a sense of direction and help keep both you and your learners on track. By reviewing your objectives during your workshop, you will be able to tell whether something is working or not, and whether you need to adapt your plan.
Try and be realistic about how much you can cover in the time you have available to you. It is always good thing to over-plan but be aware that the majority of the time, any activities planned generally take longer than expected.
When identifying timings for each activity, remember to allow extra time as a precaution. For example, the activity might be a group discussion for fifteen minutes, but you probably need to add an extra five minutes to introduce the exercise and organise participants into discussion groups (not to forget a wider group discussion and review).
Try to be flexible in approach, and be prepared to change your timings and maybe even cut out an activity if necessary. Before you begin, work out which activities are less important, or which ones cover the same content and are easiest to skip if you run out of time. You should also plan for some extra activities as backup in case you speed through the content or you have a problem with your resources (better to be safe than sorry).
Venue and Facilities Selection
When selecting a suitable venue for your training workshop, it’s essential that it is easily accessible for delegates and large enough to run your activities. The venue should also have all the resources that you require such as tables and chairs, and be comfortable with windows, ventilation and temperature control.
When selecting an appropriate venue make sure that the following criteria is met:
- The venue is accessible to everyone and within easy to travelling distance.
- You have adequate resources made available to you such as chairs and tables. You might also want to request extra training resources such as flip charts, pens, paper, projector, interactive whiteboard etc.
- The venue is large enough for your workshop, clean and well-ventilated with natural light. You might also want to consider working outside on a sunny day.
- There are clean toilets available and suitable areas for rest breaks.
It is important that after the selection of a training venue you make the necessary arrangements and get confirmation of your booking. It is no good organising a training workshop and to turn up and not have access to your training room. Book your venue in advance, confirm this a couple of days before your workshop and be there at least thirty minutes before the start of your training workshop to prepare and setup. Remember, first impressions last!
Activities and Learning Strategies
Next you need to either select the right activities or develop your own exercises to help you achieve your learning aims. When deciding on activities, try to think about the flow and pacing of your workshop, and how each activity works together to create a whole. Ensure that each activity has a purpose (so delegates understand ‘the why’) and links to the content. If an activity doesn’t fit your aims, scrap it and save it for another time.
Think of your workshop like a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Each activity should help the group identify a key learning outcome that moves them on to the next activity and towards the main objective of the workshop.
The beginning is where you introduce the workshop, discuss the structure of the day, identify learning objectives and discuss previous experiences. Try to make this as fun and interactive as possible – use questions and team activities to engage your group, relax them, break down barriers to learning and mentally prepare them for the workshop.
The middle is the most important part of your workshop, this is where the learning takes place and content is covered. During the journey stage of the workshop, delegates will work together and reflect and hopefully learn through self-discovery and experience. Try to use as many different teaching methods as possible to cater to all learning styles. For more information of training methods such as mind-mapping, group discussions and role plays check out the training section of the website.
The end is where delegates take time reflect on the activity or training workshop and review as a group the content they have covered and what they learned. This is the part of the programme where they connect the dots and think about how the learning can be used in application in the workplace or in life.
The activities and training methods specified in your workshop plan should be flexible and easily adaptable to suit all learners. As mentioned before, you may have to adapt your plan during the workshop so it is good to have plenty of options available to you.