12 Essential Tips for Delivering Effective Training Courses
Effective training of staff is essential to ensure they develop in their roles and are able to be as productive as possible. The business will need training to be cost effective and meet learning objectives, so as a facilitator of training it's important to get it right first time.
These 12 tips cover all the critical areas you must consider to ensure your training delivery is top notch and fully effective.
Training Needs Analysis (TNA)
There should be a regular review of training courses in your organization, to ensure they meet the needs of the business. Analysis of what those training needs are should be undertaken as often as necessary, based on the size and diversity of the business. Training catalogs should also clearly describe the content and learning objectives to avoid people enrolling on the wrong courses.
All training material, including physical workbooks, tests, exercises and IT training systems, should be reviewed at least annually. If the business or subject matter is particularly dynamic or subject to change, reviews should be more frequent. Record review dates on all material and encourage the wider business to highlight changes affecting training. Out-of-date training material is a risk to the business, as it leads to errors, complaints and potential financial loss or reputational damage.
Know your stuff
Be prepared before you deliver training. Allow adequate time to review and familiarize yourself with content and exercises. Ensure you have a training plan that describes learning objectives and expected outcomes for each day, so you stay in control. You may have delivered the course before, but still need to make sure you are aware of any changes. Ill-prepared trainers don't inspire confidence, nor do they deliver effectively to timescales or objectives.
Variety is good
Consider different learning styles and ensure you have plenty of different types of exercises or examples to demonstrate models and concepts. You may not use them all, but will have a varied suite to choose from, giving you the flexibility to adapt to the needs of the group. Time and experience will tell which of these are most effective. Being too one dimensional with your delivery style could present a barrier to learning.
Engage your audience
Make the learning experience as interactive as possible. Adopt the "tell, show, do" model and get your delegates working on exercises that put into practice the concepts you have taught. Use tests often, as they will appeal to your audience's competitive spirit and are an excellent way to consolidate learning.
Set up systems
If your training involves practical work using IT systems, make sure these are working correctly in advance. If delegates require unique accounts to access systems, ensure these are set up and tested early enough to resolve any issues. Failure to do so risks embarrassment and puts your training schedule in jeopardy.
Don't waste time
A sure way to get off to a bad start is to waste half your opening morning on tedious ice-breakers. It is important to put people at ease and allow time for introductions, but keep any games short and relevant. Don't leave the room outside break times unless absolutely necessary, and then only for the shortest possible time. Doing so leaves your delegates unsupported and feeling you are not engaged with them.
The training environment can be a tricky one to manage, as trainees will often arrive with expectations of a more relaxed atmosphere than their day job. This can lead to apathy and inappropriate behavior, such as poor timekeeping. Avoid this by setting a clear expectation on day one of what is and isn't acceptable.
Set and review objectives
Any training course should follow a written brief. Share this with all delegates, even if only at a high level. It's important that everyone understands what the learning objectives are for each day. It's then equally important to ensure that these objectives are reviewed at the close of each day to verify everyone has absorbed the key learning points. You may need to revisit areas of weakness later, either with individuals or the whole group.
Make sure you allow time for questions each day, and reserve some time at the end of the course in order to go back over any areas needing a refresh, or to allow for minor overruns if you fall behind schedule. You might also need to provide individual coaching for trainees who haven't grasped a particular point. You should also plan for the possibility that you have a strong group who finish the course ahead of time. Your business may not allow for people to be released early, so have material or exercises ready to fill spare time.
Don't be too nice
You need to strike up a rapport with the group, but maintain a position of authority and gain their respect. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to ensure that learning objectives are met and that you keep control of timings and delivery of content. Additionally, you must ensure that delegates become self-sufficient and retain the skills and knowledge they gain in training once they leave the classroom.
The best way to understand how effective your training has been is to ask the audience. You should do this immediately after the course finishes, to get first impressions about the content, delivery and environment. However, you should also gather feedback three to six months after the event, from both the delegates and their managers. This will complete your understanding of how effective the learning was back in the workplace, and is an essential tool in fine-tuning your course material for future events.
If you give time and consideration to these 12 essential areas, you will leave no room for error. Your course material will be relevant, accurate and up to date, and your audience will be fully engaged with the content. Additionally, you'll find the post-course feedback to be increasingly positive, and this will draw praise from the business as learning objectives are met in the most efficient and effective way.