This article asks the question “what makes training effective?”. It explores the steps that training organisers can take to improve training. The article also includes links to our “training venue checklist” and our “training evaluation forms”.
Skills based training is often far more effective in terms of developing knowledge and understanding. Unlike the talk-at style of delivery that is associated with a lecture where the tutor simply imparts information, a skills-based training workshop employs a talk-with delivery which engages the delegates in discussions, explores their current knowledge, dispels misconceptions and builds and develops understanding and skills.
Here are some important considerations when planning a skills-based workshop.
It can be tempting to hold training events in your workplace as it often seems to be the most cost-effective solution, but in truth it can be the most expensive mistake that you can make.
The training environment is crucial and can make a difference between success and failure. Training events cost a significant amount of money so it is important that they are effective. Very few workplaces have a suitable space to hold a training event. Delegates need space to work, comfortable seating, good projection facilities and no interruptions. Spaces in workplaces often cramped, lack projection facilities and leave delegates vulnerable to constant interruptions from colleagues. Ask yourself how many times you have seen people called out of a training event because of an urgent call from a client. So before you choose the location for your training event, carefully consider how effective training will be if you remain in your workplace.
Consider holding your event in a conference venue where your delegates will be able to concentrate on the training without being called away by colleagues and where the training room is fully equipped with presentation screens, audio equipment and comfortably seating. These simple considerations make a significant difference to the concentration levels and ultimately improve the effectiveness of the training.
When booking your training room, think about your delegates physical needs. Make sure the training room is comfortable. Your delegates may well be sitting for most of the day, so make sure that the chairs are suitable. The temperature of the room is an important consideration. If delegates are either too hot or too cold, they will not be able to concentrate. Choose a training room that has lots of natural daylight and windows that can be opened to allow fresh air to circulate if the room starts to get too warm. A brief blast of fresh air can work wonders when it comes to keeping delegates alert. Make sure your training venue has a coffee lounge or break-out rooms so that delegates can stretch their legs and refresh their minds ready for the next part of the course.
For skills based training, it is a good idea to restrict the number of delegates. Small groups of 10 to 20 delegates are ideal. By restricting the number of delegates, you will enable effective discussions to take place. Small groups mean that delegates will be able to communicate easily with the tutor and with each other.
A small group means that the tutor can work with the delegates on a personal level, and through simple questioning techniques can quickly establish their current knowledge and work to fill the gaps.
The size of the training room is important and can impact greatly upon the learning opportunities for delegates. A room that is too large or too small can significantly reduce the learning opportunities. Large rooms immediately distance the tutor and the participants. This can have devastating effects. It means the tutor has to work much harder to engage the delegates. Reluctant delegates, who often have the most to gain, can sit at the back of the room meaning the tutor has to work even harder to draw them into conversation and engage with them. Choose a training room that comfortably accommodates your chosen number of delegates. Make sure the screen is of ample size so that those people sitting furthest away can clearly see the information or video that you are discussing. Make sure that the tutor can move around the training room and can speak to each person.
Sound is crucial for any training event. If you cannot hear the tutor and the other participants, it makes it incredibly difficult to learn and engage. The acoustics in larger rooms, particularly those with vaulted ceilings typically associated with church or village halls can mean that the tutors voice sails away into the rafters. Empty or echoing spaces should also be avoided. Give careful consideration to noise disruption that can filter into the training room from outside. Choose a training room with good acoustics and with built in sound amplification.
Providing food for your delegates can make a huge difference. Not only does it address their physical needs (a hungry delegate is a distracted delegate), but a meal can make participants feel valued and cared for. Include options for vegetarians and make sure that your venue is happy to cater for any special dietary requirements that your delegates have. Meal times are sociable and give delegates an opportunity to discuss the course. Consider wowing your delegates with an amazing meal. It is surprising how much difference this can make to their perception of the training.
Check to make sure the conference centre has tea and coffee “on tap” and that there are also healthier caffeine free choices available such as herbal or fruit infused teas and plenty of water.
Building engaging tasks into your workshop can be a useful way of embedding learning. A task will invite and encourage participation and helps to keep your audience feeling alert. Consider building in the use of break-out rooms so that delegates can work on a task in small groups.
Make sure that your chosen training venue will provide your delegates with pens and conference paper so that your delegates are fully equipped for a day of learning. In case of the unexpected, check that the venue has a photocopier available so that you can print off any additional materials or information. Make sure the venue has dedicated event staff available to welcome and look after your delegates throughout the day and wish them a safe journey as they leave.