Training Day

We’ve all attended dull, uninspiring training sessions. Yet we know that we are more likely to enjoy, learn and apply new techniques and thinking if it is delivered in a more engaging way. (Isn’t this why we naturally migrate towards the visual in all things viral – videos, animations, audio – and then share and discuss it with friends, family and colleagues. Because we want to be associated with the cool?)

I digress. So, how to make training and learning fun?

In preparing for some in-house training sessions, I recalled the learning pyramid I’ve used in a previous life. The statistics that underpin it are staggering.

From this, it is reasonable to deduce that any good training session needs to include a mix of presentation, demonstration and application.

Here’s how I structure even a one hour training session:

1. Introduction and pooled aims (what do attendees want out of it) – this achieves engagement.

2. A quick icebreaker (what do you know) – to establish base level of understanding . Guard against using icebreakers to soften the group socially, this can lead to a lazy session.

3. Provide some brief context (linking to aims and icebreaker) and some definitions.

4. Main presentation/lecture containing the core information you want them to take away. Keep this light and remember, repitition, repitition, repitition.

5. Optional video reinforcement. Ideally something that is either smart, cool or funny works best. Even better if it involves a brand that means something to the assembled group. Don’t run a boring corporate showreel.

6. Application exercise – the core part of the session. Breaking the group into pairs or smaller groups and encouraging them to graple with specific problems. Make it decision and time sensitive, as there is nothing like working under a bit of pressure.

7. Feedback. Ensure there is sufficient time for everyone to get their moment in the sun. It’s amazing how empowering this can make people feel, especially those team members that rarely speak up in group situations.

8. Summary. Throughout, you the trainer, are making notes ready to provide feedback and closing thoughts at the end, reinforcing the messages of the session.

9. Review of aims. Check back to the aims of the session and the content presented and discussed. Offer enough time for questions, either in the group or as a one-to-one.

10. Follow up. Statistics show that learnings tail off dramatically even three months after a training session. To combat these, provide materials, set up a working group and encourage everyone to keep talking and discussing. Ask for evaluation and tailor re-runs and refreshers in the future based on the feedback.

It all takes work, but great teachers and great training sessions are worth their wait in gold, and lead to better informed and motivated teams in your workplace.

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