Before delivering training participants, you should have some idea of who your participants are and what level of training they need, you can to this in a number of ways:
- meet with them or their supervisor,
- informal poll by email,
- with a survey tool, or
- informal poll by show of hands at the beginning of the session.
Consider the following when planning your training content:
- Set objectives.
- Include strong introduction/introductory activity.
- Structure activities in a logical order.
- Plan time at the end for questions.
- Filter out complicated or boring content. Consider content participants will carry back with them:
- What do they need to know?
- What do they want to know?
- What do they already know?
- What don't they need to know?
- Also keep in mind that participants will carry what you say to contacts beyond your initial audience. Consider what you say; your audience is not just the people in the room!
Technology adds an extra layer of complexity to training:
- Submit special requests early.
- Make slides simple, consistent & legible.
- Make alternate plans for all technology.
- Consider a rover. For hands-on technical training sessions, a roving assistant could be used to assist participants with any technical problems and get them caught up with the rest of the class without interrupting the presenter or the flow of the session. They are especially helpful if your participants have beginner-level skills and could easily be frustrated by technical failures, you have more than ten participants, and/or you do not control the machines in training lab. If you have a rover:
- Select a rover who is familiar with the room, if possible.
- Meet prior to session to discuss expectations.
- Have watch participants from behind to view screens.
Your physical location can have an impact on your delivery. Make the following preparations around your training locations:
- Practice at location with materials and equipment.
- Arrive at least 15 minutes early to set up and test.
- Encourage people to sit up front.
Pacing is key to a good training session. Sessions should remain on-task to the establish objectives, yet allow time for participants to follow the presenter's instructions:
- Set time limits for each section before delivering training.
- Stick to objectives identified for the session. Keep questions related to the current objective. Ask that participants write down additional questions to ask later, but don't forget to provide contact information as follow-up.
- For hands-on training, pause to make sure everyone is with you and explain each step. Ask questions to verify that everyone is following along. Make use of rovers (if you have them) to get everyone to the same step (see Roving Assistance) . Take time to provide extra explanation to fill the silence while others catch up so they do not feel pressure as others wait on them.
- Supply at least a 5 minute break every hour. It provides time for people to clear their heads, ask off-task questions, get caught up, or try things on their own.
- Have a strategy for minimizing disruptions:
- Cell phones
- Laptops/back-channel discussion
- Trainer attitude
A mnemonic device is a tool that allows someone to commit new information to memory. Here are some mnemonic techniques you should use during your session:
- Relate new learning to what participants already know. It is easier for learners to remember new information if it relates to something they already know. Use the participants/their personal experiences as examples (see Pre-Assessment). Use visual aids like charts, graphs, and images. Use metaphors and analogies. Even dress in costume if it helps make a connection!
- Repeat key concepts, and vary repetition where exceptions exist. What are the most important ideas learners should remember from their session? Repeat them. Make participants repeat them in chorus with you. Ask participants periodically through out the session to make sure they recall them. If there is are exceptions to these ideas, call attention to these variations as well.
- Vary the tone and volume of your voice. Use the tone and volume of your voice to stress key points or bring participants attention back to you when they have had time to work independently.
- Use humor, but use it wisely. Participants may remember a concept if something humorous is associated with it. However, make sure the humor is not offensive to your audience (see Pre-Assessment) or it may form a barrier to learning rather than an aid to it.
- Use proximity (contact with participant). Participants become more attentive when the presenter is physically near them. Whenever possible, move around the room. Or, at the very least when you can't leave your current position, make direct eye contact with participants around the room.
- Involve the participants! People learn more by doing for themselves. Make the participants do as much of the work as possible. Ask them questions periodically to check for understanding. Make them repeat key concepts. Invite them up to demonstrate for others. Call on them to figure out what you were going to recommend or say next. Make your session as interactive as possible!
When working with handouts, consider the following tips:
- Make a copy available online.
- Consider a variety of versions.
- Make extra copies.
- Try handouts on other media.
- Consider space for notes.
- Don't distribute them until participants should read them.
Closing & Follow-Up
Question & Answer
- Encourage participants to use microphones (if available).
- Repeat each question before answering.
- If you don't know an answer...
- Admit it.
- Find out.
- Share the answer with all participants.
When you have finished presenting the your material you should sum-up your objectives and provide follow-up information for participants:
- What should participants have learned in the session (your objectives)?
- What should they do next? (Are there follow-up sessions the should take or activities they should do?)
- Where can they go if they still have questions (or for more in-depth information on your topic)?
Additionally, you may want to solicit feedback on the session, the course description and level, the venue, your delivery, the materials, the pacing, etc. Consider a paper survey at the end of the session or a Web-based survey tool for this purpose.