First and foremost, it is important to determine why your organisation needs training. Is carrying out the training simply a tick the box exercise or will it improve the performance of the business i.e., will it reduce costs, improve efficiency, mitigate risks, and/or generate revenue. This should be determined during a training needs analysis meeting with the management team.
When you determine that training is beneficial to the business there are four tips for preparing the training session as follows:
- Know your audience
- Use real life examples
- Assess prior knowledge
- Repetition to promote behaviour change
Know your Audience
A key step towards meaningful learning development is to identify the learners and analyse your audience. It is important to determine what motivates them?, what capabilities do they have?, Will they be useful in helping to educate other learners?. It is crucial to know the individual learners’ level of education, what range of experience they have, what gets them engaged. While taking all of these into consideration it is also important to establish any cultural issues at the planning stage to ensure mindfulness of what is offensive to different groups.
One of the biggest mistakes a trainer can make is to insult a learner’s intelligence. Therefore, it is important not to dictate training material to learners. Create tasks which enable learners to investigate a problem and arrive at multi-perception solutions to the problem.
Use different learning modalities to facilitate the different types of learner such as:
While visual and auditory learning are mostly used in the training course itself, kinaesthetic and tactile learning will mostly be utilised during on-the job training.
It is important to develop an understanding for what motivates the learner. For example, winning/dominating training exercises such as quizzes target high energy personnel such as sales personnel. Socializing and Networking exercises such as discussion forums creates a learning platform for the less dominant quieter group and Exploring such as project work is successful in collectors such as scientists. It may be necessary to use different motivators across the group to ensure everyone has equal learning opportunities.
Use Real Life Examples
People are most engaged by content they feel is relevant to them – content that reflects their everyday experiences. Real life examples create a buy-in from the first moment of learning. Use of real life examples is a must when creating engaging content. Learners can relate to informal stories, formal case studies and real-life scenarios. Real life examples benefit the learners by creating engagement, improved retention and putting the skills they are learning into practice. The advantage of real-life examples is it offers a safe space for learners and enables the learner to be engaged by choosing their own solutions and getting immediate feedback without suffering any real-life penalties for wrong choices. Using multiple choice answers for case studies in group discussion offers a safe space for audience engagement and serves as an excellent tool for knowledge retention. Real life examples also correlate with improved retention as people can retain information when they can relate to an experience, especially if they’ve had that experience before.
Assess Prior Knowledge
Learners come to training with a variety of pre-existing skills, knowledge, beliefs and attitudes. This in turn will have a major influence on how they process and interpret in-coming information and will affect how they remember and apply this information in real life scenarios.
By assessing prior knowledge, you can empower learners, challenge novice learners, acknowledge prior experience which all naturally increase classroom engagement. More experienced pupils can also naturally co-tutor the less experienced by creating an engaging group discussion such as a discussion about a visual stimulus (a photo or video clip).
It may be necessary to encourage learners to take prerequisite courses or to study pre-course material if they are to succeed in the training course. This enables both the learner and tutor to allocate their time and energies in ways that will be most productive.
Repetition to promote behaviour change
Neuroscientists have determined that every skill is learnable. The more one practices a skill, the better one becomes at it, and once a behaviour is carried out often enough – it becomes a habit! It is estimated that it takes 10,000 repetitions to master a skill and develop the associated neuropathway and it can take 3-6 months for a new behaviour change to become a habit so practice and repetition is key for driving improvement changes in the learners in your organisation.
However, it is important not to deliver repeated content ad nauseam. Create different experiences which deliver the same message. Create different learning activities throughout the daily schedule. Deliver training in different ways and apply on-the-job training immediately to promote better retention and behaviour change.
By creating training content which incorporates these four training techniques, the learners will exit the training course feeling refreshed with a renewed sense of knowledge to continually improve their own role in the organisation.