Training sessions are extremely common in the business world, and you may assume that they are all created equal. This couldn’t be further than the truth, and in this article, we will attempt to give you the keys to perfecting the art of the effective training session.
Before we begin, what is a training session and why are they necessary?
Training sessions are events that offer some form of education to the attendees. This could be as simple as product knowledge for salespeople or as complex as leadership skills for management. Training sessions usually include a combination of lectures, discussions, live demonstrations and evaluations.
If done correctly, these sessions are great for boosting team morale, enhancing professional development and fostering a happier, more productive working environment for all. Let’s have a look at 5 tips to ensure your future training sessions will be on the money:
- Perform a Needs Assessment before the session
There are many ways to do a needs test, but the basic principle behind this process is to assess knowledge gaps among participants so that you can adjust your content accordingly.
- Keep Adult Learning Principles in Mind
It’s important to remember that stepping out of the ‘learning’ sphere changes the way adults approach training and information retention. There is growing literature that you can peruse about Adult Learning Principles (we greatly recommend the work of Malcom Knowles), but the general gist is that working adults absorb information better when they can relate it to their own experiences and how it applies to their work. Therefore, too much anecdotal or superfluous information will be of no interest to your participants. Keep presentations concise and to the point, and focus on giving participants the information to solve the problems they may face in their work.
- Establish Objectives and a Simple Structure, then Stick with It
The whole point of any training session is to impart information to the participants. You need to establish clear objectives for each session, and communicate these with attendees beforehand, so that once you begin, everyone is on the same page and working in the same direction. It’s also imperative that you communicate the structure of the session, giving clear timeframes for each part of the training. Ensure that you make time for breaks and a Q&A or Feedback section at the end of the day.
- Training Material and Activities
Training material is essential to running an effective training session, as are activities designed to hold attendees’ attention. They should support what you are saying and they should prompt you and keep you organized. From beginning to end, staying organized can be the difference between an excellent training session and an average training session. For the attendees, training materials will guide the session, making different parts of the training session digestible. Providing training materials for the attendees also allows them to revisit the information on their own time. When it comes to activities, one of our favourite icebreakers is to split the group you are working with into smaller groups of four or five. In these smaller groups, participants can work together to find ten things that they have in common with every person in the group. Establishing what people have in common allows individuals to bond over their similarities, leading to a more relaxed and conducive learning environment.
Running a training evaluation is key when developing your own skills as a trainer and ensuring you have met your training session goals. Of course, taking into account whether or not your participants have acquired the intended learning objectives. Feedback may seem daunting, but it’s essential to your development as a trainer.
One of the best ways to gather feedback is through face-to-face conversations with your attendees. Ask attendees to give a brief reflection on the activities they’ve just completed.
Alternatively, you can ask for reflective feedback post training day through an electronic feedback form your attendees can fill out. For instance, consider using a feedback questionnaire or an evaluation form.
No training session will be perfect the first time around, but eventually, you will find a strategy that works best for you and your attendees. If you need further advice, be sure to speak to the experts at Tusk Group here.