This article is written for anyone who is new to training and looking for some quick tips to help plan for their next workshop. These 10 training tips will help you prepare, plan and deliver a high quality training workshop and ensure that you and your team get the most from your training time.
1) Effective planning
Know your subject and understand your training objectives. Once you know what you’re hoping to achieve, write a training plan consisting of activities to help you achieve those objectives. Activities may consist of presentations, practical activities, role plays, case studies and group discussions – choose what works best for your group and plan accordingly. Plan your timings, resources required and be sure to add regular breaks to your plan.
2) The learning environment
The setup of your training room (or learning environment) can have a huge impact on your group and their level of concentration and ability to retain information.
When laying out the classroom, organise chairs in a circle or horseshoe, as this allows learners to see each other and better interaction.
Use visual aids that link to the theme of the workshop. This could be posters, quotes or flipchart work completed by the group during the workshop. Also create a question board and ask the group to write on post-it notes anything they want answered by the end of the training session.
Check out my blog post, learning environment for more information and useful tips
3) First Impressions
Arrive early and setup your classroom, checking that you have all the required equipment. Read through your training notes before the first person arrives and get comfortable with the content.
The first ten minutes of your workshop are the most important as it sets the tone for the rest of the day. When your workshop begins, there is some basic information you’ll need to cover which will help make your learners comfortable:
- Introduce yourself and anyone else who will be assisting you during the training.
- Discuss the aims of the workshop and what you will cover. Map the session by giving them a brief overview of the content and timings for the day. Link the content to the company objectives and help them understand why they are there.
- Agree on some basic rules for the training. What you expect from them and what they expect from you. These usually include: switching off cell phones, being on time following a break, not interrupting each other etc.
4) Make it fun
The more fun someone is having, the more likely they are to learn. Try to have variety and change your delivery style to suit the group. If the group aren’t enjoying a particular learning session/activity, cut it short and move on to the next one – just be sure to recap the key points. Keep adapting to suit your learners and how they learn. If you’re unsure, find out what they like doing by asking them and adapt your training plan accordingly.
5) Keep things clear
Try to keep what you are teaching as simple as possible and stay away from using jargon unless it is necessary. If you do use jargon, then explain the word or ask the group whether they understand what it means. Make the group fully aware of what is going on and how long they will be doing an activity for. Try to not provide more than 3-4 bits of information at once, otherwise the group will switch off.
6) Recap frequently
At the end of each activity or training session, take time to recap the key learning points. This can be done through question and answers or by splitting the group into smaller sub-groups and having them reflect followed by a group discussion. This helps to clarify learning and understanding.
A quick and easy to review to use at the end of a training workshop is: what, so what and now what.
- What: what did you learn?
- So what? Why was it important?
- Now what: How are you going to use this information and apply it?
If I’m working with the same group for more than a day, I will organise them into smaller reflection groups of 3-4 people at the start of the training workshop. At the end of the day, I will ask them to reflect on the whole day in their groups and discuss what they enjoyed, didn’t enjoy and what they learned and how it can be applied.
7) Keep everyone engaged
Try to use a variety of teaching methods to keep everyone engaged in the workshop. Use a mixture of discussion and active exercises. If you notice something isn’t working, change to another exercise and come back to it later on. The more engaged someone is, the more they will be focused and open to learning.
Use questions to keep learners engaged and lead them to the answers. Set up activities, so your learners discover the information rather than being told. If you use a ‘chalk and talk’ method of teaching you will lose your audience and they will likely switch off.
Everyone learns differently – your job as a trainer is to plan effectively so they get the most from the workshop. Some people do better by reading, others through watching videos and some by discussing it with others. Plan a variety of activities to suit all learning styles.
8) Remain flexible
Sometimes things don’t go to plan. Remain flexible in your approach and do not worry. A plan isn’t set in stone, a plan is simply there to guide you in the right direction and help you achieve your learning outcomes. If you spent too much time on an activity, don’t worry about it – just adjust your plan and timings accordingly. The most important thing is to respond to your group and help them learn the information. It doesn’t matter how you achieve your training objectives as long you meet them.
Remember, nobody knows what you’re going to teach except you (that’s why you’re there). No one will know you missed out some information unless you make it obvious and panic. Just relax and know even the most experienced trainers still make mistakes. Think about how you want to handle and just come back to it later on.
If you find yourself struggling or maybe stumbling through key points and losing track. Again, don’t panic. Relax and just ask the group a question related to the subject and get them to discuss it with the person next them. Refer to your notes, breathe and you’re good to go again.
9) Monitor Energy Levels
Make sure you schedule breaks throughout your workshop to keep the level of concentration high. At the start of the workshop, I ask my learners to make me aware when they need a break. The fresh air and the change of environment will do them some good and hopefully improve their focus for when they return.
If notice energy levels are getting low, and people tend to be vacant and not joining in on discussions, then plan some active challenges to shake things up and get them re-energised. Most of the time, changing the classroom dynamic, switching activities or getting them to move is all that is needed.
10) Effective Communication
Many people don’t realise but there is a difference between effective communication and communication. Effective communication means what is being said is understood. Your aim is to make sure you effectively communicate with your group and they take as much information as possible away from the workshop.
Think about changing the pace, tone and volume of your speech to make it more engaging. Try not to speak too fast and don’t be afraid to use pauses for affect. Use simple words rather than complex ones and use words relevant to your subject and your learners.
Use questions regularly to help keep your group focussed and check understanding. Be sure to listen to responses and build on them.
For more training tips, information and exercises, visit the training section of the website.