Delivering Effective Course Content

by ltconsulting on September 29, 2011

Total Success have been running successful Train the Trainer courses since 1995. This one-day course is essential if you have just been promoted to a training or coaching role or you wish to refresh your training skills. It is full of practical tools and techniques that include:

This course will also benefit those who have become Training Managers and wish to know the fundamentals of developing organisational training programmes focusing on implementing training policy and improving staff competency levels.

How you approach the actual teaching will depend on the subject matter and on your personal style and preferences. In most cases, you will want to break the content into distinct modules and follow a planned routine for each of them.

1. Trainer speaking: You could adopt a “four phase” approach. For each topic, start by presenting a short overview. Simply speak to the audience – often walking among them – without visual aids of any kind.

2. Training Presentation: Next, switch to PowerPoint. Show slides to reinforce the main points of the topic. It is important for these slides to be concise and easy to absorb – five to six bullet points per slide is usually about right. Ensure that your audience can see all of the information on your slides from where they are sitting.

3. Summarise: each slide as you go along, but resist the temptation to read the text verbatim. Remember that slides are a visual aid and require a trainer’s explanation and elaboration for the slide to work effectively. Each slide (or set of slides around a single topic) must have a clearly defined message. Review your slides and ask ‘What is the point of this slide?’, ‘What am I trying to get across with this slide?’.

4. Interactive Element: In this phase, hand over to the trainees. This usually takes the form of a individual or group exercise, but it might also be a short discussion. During the exercise, visit each trainee in turn, helping them out with any problems, and dealing with any questions which they might prefer not to ask in front of the group.

· Advanced vs ‘slower’ delegates: It is at this point that differences in abilities will become most obvious. Some students will complete an exercise in a fraction of the time allocated to it, while others will still be struggling long after they should have finished. For the fast ones, it pays to keep some “advanced” exercises in reserve. But give these out quietly, on an individual basis, rather than to the group as a whole. This will prevent the slow people feeling that they are getting even further behind. To help the slow people, you must be prepared to give them a little extra personal attention. Encourage them to complete at least part of each exercise so that they feel they have accomplished something. It is also useful to have a sample solution available. If a trainee is completely at sea, you can at least suggest that they study the solution and try to understand how it works.

· After the exercise, run through the sample solution to the group as whole. Where appropriate, stress that this is not necessarily the only correct answer, but simply one method of achieving the goal: “Most of you are on the right track, although some of you have approached it in a different way”.

Developing Group Rapport

  •  Create a seating chart listing the names of each delegate.
  •  Set a goal to learn and use each delegate’s name before the first break.
  •  Tell stories about yourself and your experiences.
  •  Admit your mistakes, especially those you make during the session.
  •  Spend time chatting with delegates during breaks and lunch.
  •  Help the delegates with difficult exercises.
  •  Stay around for 10 to 15 minutes after a session so that individuals can talk to you privately.

Leading Discussions

Avoid lecturing as much as possible. Develop approaches for incorpo­rating lecture material into group discussions.

  • Foster discussion by asking open questions such as:

· How does that apply to your job?

· How would you handle that situation?

· What are your thoughts?

· What are your feelings about that?

  • Set the tone for the discussion:
  •  Emphasise that there are no dumb questions or comments.
  •  Stress that there are many ways of handling any situation.
  •  Point out that everyone’s ideas are of value during a learning experience.
  •  Use the questions in the lesson plan to generate discussion.
  •  Get as many delegates as possible involved in the discussion. Avoid letting any one individual dominate the discussion.
  •  Watch and respond to delegates’ nonverbal communication, e.g., by nodding head, leaning forward or backward, hand position, eye contact.
  •  Where possible, wait until delegates indicate nonverbally that they are interested in participating and then call on them.
  •  Allow delegates to make the key points for you.
  •  Analyse delegates’ responses and summarise their comments to check for agreement.
  •  Limit your opinions on controversial subjects.

Handling Difficult Situations

One of the trainer’s most troublesome tasks is fielding objections or negative comments from delegates. The following guidelines will help to deal with difficult situations that may arise in the training room:

  •  Anticipate delegates’ responses to the material presented in the session.
  •  Identify potential problem situations before conducting a session and plan contingency approaches.
  •  Consult other trainers for approaches and insights they have found helpful.
  •  Turn difficult situations and comments back to the group. Allow group members to work through the situations or comments themselves.
  •  Avoid expressing personal opinions.
  •  Never argue with a delegate.

Adding Interest To A Training Course

It is accepted that up to 80% of information is received through non verbal channels. During a training session the trainer who relies on just verbal communication to get the message across is using only 20% of their potential to communicate; may not know if the training has been successful and may risk boring their trainees. Remember training is not just telling them what to do, it’s getting them to achieve a higher level of competence or knowledge of the subject.

A successful presenter recognises this fact and will consider the appropriate use of a combination channels – sight, sound, touch and even smell and taste – to create a training session which will be interesting, understood and remembered.

Let’s examine some simple strategies for making your training sessions more interesting.

· Keep making references to the needs of your audience. Talk about their problems and requirements in relation to your topic. Ensure that you have established your key messages and reiterate these throughout the training to ensure their retention.

· Give out notes/hand outs but control the audience’s attention by making reference to specific points.

· Use PowerPoint to create appropriate impact.

· Audio/visuals e.g. Showing a video can enhance a training session and push home practical points in an interesting way.

· Practical examples or case studies. Relevant scenarios allow delegates to ‘think through problems and engage in problem solving solutions.

· Any form of group participation; from simply asking for a show of hands to a question to interactive demonstrations.

· Stimulating the senses – the more of the 5 senses that are stimulated the more memorable the content.

· Watch your language. Use words and phrases that enhance your point and inspire the audience. This is a useful point if you are training technical subjects that may be less stimulating to your audience.

· Stories – can also be sad, poignant, serious, unusual, witty, dramatic, scary, etc. Stories let the audience visualise the action of the story in their minds. People tend to remember stories long after forgetting most other things. Similar to case studies, stories stimulate the audience to think through issues or problems

· A Quiz – introduces an element of competition which most individuals find interesting. Quizzes are a really fun way of testing the learning of the group after the training.

· Team quizzes. Try splitting your delegates into small groups and award points (or prizes) for correct answers – you’ll be surprised how competitive your groups will be to win the quiz. One of the advantages of creating groups is the discussion within the group about the answers. Group discussion reinforces the key messages and learning points.

· Changing the style of your delivery from what is normally expected. Startle, surprise or invigorate your delegates to draw attention to the point you are about to make.

· Use what’s around you to ask rhetorical questions; make bold, declarative statements, relate to real-world situations and current events; use scenarios and anecdotes.

· Quotations always make a presenter seem more knowledgeable than they actually are; however they must be 100% relevant to the presentation topic or they will seem trite and meaningless.

· Statistics – used as graphs, tables etc, give a presentation authenticity, credibility and allows the presenter to create a logical flow of statistical information. Using PowerPoint animated charts are a great way of giving information in an interesting way

· Creating a theme. This adds repetition to the message the presenter wishes to make. Themes can be simple examples, analogies (linking a process to gardening, cooking etc), a simple message (Customer’s Count; Creating Value; ‘Strive to be the Best’ etc). These serve to reinforce the points made and make them memorable.

· Give an overview/agenda before moving onto the points of detail.

· Group exercises that encourage discussion and exploration of a topic

· Instruction sheets are excellent resources if the trainees have to use the information some time after the course. Remember people may forget up to 75% of what they learn in 30 days.

· Questionnaires are great for examination of delegate’s abilities and competencies. We find that trainees love to fill in questionnaires and discuss the results. Try to bridge the gap between a questionnaires results and a practical application that the trainees can use.

· Games are excellent for group involvement. Games are also a fun and useful resource to use after lunch or to ‘wake up’ your delegates.

· Workbooks are excellent as post-course reference manuals – like this one!!!!!

· Practical examples and demonstrations of techniques and more importantly the tools being taught.

· Role-plays are excellent ways of getting delegates to act out new techniques in a ‘risk free’ environment. Try to structure your role-plays so that everyone in small groups of 2-3 and everyone starts at the same time. This encourages involvement and is non-embarrassing for those who hate role-play.

EXERCISE

Think of an upcoming training session. List what you could do to make it interesting and to stimulate your trainees to learn. Once you have finished, split into small groups of 2-3 and discuss your ideas.

‘To make my training sessions more interesting I will

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