In my previous blog, we discussed some of the problems you may be facing that's causing your training efforts to fail. Now you're probably wondering what the solutions to those problems are. If society being easily distracted is the core problem for keeping people engaged, then what’s the solution? What is needed to have attendees leave a training class feeling excited about what they just learned? How can you make students leave feeling like they can actually use what they learned to solve real world problems?
Let's take a look at ways you can make sure your training endeavors are successful.
- Start with the “Why” – That’s right, don’t start by answering what things are and how to do them. Students should already know what the training is about (or they wouldn’t have signed up) and there’s an assumption that they will learn the how to do it (Whatever it is). By starting your training with answers to the why questions, you can get students hooked early on. Attendees should be getting answer to these types of questions as early as possible:
- Why is this important?
- Why should I care?
- Why is your way better than other ways?
Answering these questions will certainly set you apart from others doing the same type of training.
- Use PowerPoint sparingly – PowerPoint slide decks should be a supplement to training not the sole focus. Yes, PowerPoint can be a great aid for sharing your ideas, but it can also be used as a crutch that eventually puts everyone to sleep.
In my previous blog, you heard the phrase “Death by PowerPoint”. Some classes go by the theory that the more PowerPoint slides and text that can be jam packed into a presentation, the better. Following this approach is a great way to have no one ever want to attend your training sessions again.
Instead, try some different approaches with PowerPoint. Consider limiting the total number of slides in your class and limit the amount of text on each slide. Guess what? Very few in the audience are actually reading your slide anyways so don’t write multiple paragraphs explaining your point is a waste of time and makes you look bad. If that information is important and you want to share it, then put it in the slide notes.
An approach that always works well is whiteboarding key concepts. This works especially well with explaining a process flow. If a whiteboard isn’t available or perhaps you’re doing a virtual presentation, then I recommend a free tool called ZoomIt. This tool allows you to do much more than just whiteboarding but does require some practice to get comfortable using it.
- Use real world examples – Training classes use a predictable example scenarios where everything goes as planned and the instructor can immediately assess problems that students may be having. Logistically this just makes sense, but people are tired of made up scenarios where everything goes right. This might make for an easy class to deliver but it doesn’t project reality. If not done through hands-on examples, you should at the very least be prepared to share handful of real world examples, what problems you ran into and how you solved them.
- Provide hands-on opportunities – Speaking of hands-on, it makes sense your class should have built-in opportunities for students to get their experience doing what you’re talking about. This may be easier if you’re teaching a technology where students can actually go through the steps you describe but that doesn’t mean this should be something exclusive to technology training. Another alternate option would be to pair people into groups and supply a business problem for them to solve and describe to their group.
- Have completed versions of solutions – If students are building something during the training you should have a completed version of what they’re working on. There’s multiple reasons this is important. Sometimes people get stuck, have their computer crash, or have to step away for a phone call. These are just a few of the reasons why having a completed version of any hands-on examples is important. This helps students catch up quickly, which allows them to continue to follow along.
- Materials that flow – When a class has topics that don’t seem related to one another it can be confusing and hard to keep up with. Training materials that show an end-to-end solution are often helpful for students to see the bigger picture.
- Materials that are entertaining – Why can’t you learn and be entertained at the same time? What if your class had moments where if felt like a game show? Try incorporating a game into your class to review what you’ve learned at the end of the day. Having prizes is a nice add, but you’d be surprised how many people take pride in just showing they can give an answer faster than everyone else even when there’s not a prize on the line.
As stated in my previous blog, people today want to be entertained. When asked, 80% of people surveyed said they would be more productive at their jobs if learning was more game-like. (Talent LMS)
- Internet access – Even if the class material doesn’t necessarily require an internet connection, not having it is something that will sour people’s opinion of the class. I get it you want them focused on your content but the reality is many peoples day jobs still require they be able to stay in contact via email.
- Food – If you’re delivering an on-site class and it starts within regular meal time you should certainly feed your students. Enough said.
- Take breaks – Ask any student and they will tell you as you start to approach 30-60 consecutive minutes without a break from content their interest fades. Students need frequent breaks to comprehend all the information they just consumed. Provide at least a 10 minute break every hour.
- Have entertainment – As part of the breaks try to incorporate some entertainment. No, I’m not suggesting you hire a juggler or and comedian to entertain the class. Rather, I suggest playing music before class starts and during breaks (be careful in your choice of music) and start back each break with a short safe for work video like this one.
- Play the game show host – This doesn’t mean you should be goofy or silly. What it does mean is you should own the room. You’re loud enough for everyone to hear you in the back of the room without yelling at them. You’re friendly enough that anyone thinks you are approachable. Even people that consider themselves introverts can manage this. If you don’t think it’s in your personality to be comfortable presenting to a large room then you can “put on a game show host persona” when you need to so everyone understands who’s running the show.
- Ask questions – Instructors should be great at leading discussion too. It’s never fun to listen to one person talk for 6 hours straight. A great instructor knows when to incorporate input for the group into their class.
- Engage the audience – Talk to students before, during and after class. That means don’t hide during breaks. Introduce yourself to students and write down their names. It makes a much more pleasant experience for students to have an instructor that cares enough to use their name when addressing them during class.
- Know how to handle disasters – Using the word disaster here should be considered an exaggeration. Consider what might possible go wrong during a training and think, but don’t over think, how you would deal with them. What if your computer you planned on presenting with crashes? What if there is a big snow storm the day your planned training class is scheduled. Figure out alternative plans to these types of scenarios and know that any stress you display to the students can become contagious. Just relax and know that worse things are going on in the world.