“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject and how to avoid them.” Werner Karl Heisenberg
Whether you are a new or seasoned trainer, there are five mistakes you should avoid when you design your training programs.
Mistake #1. Not conducting a training needs assessment. Make sure that you know who your participants will be, why they will be attending, and what they are supposed to know or be able to do when they leave the training. Otherwise, you may end up providing the wrong training to the wrong people, wasting everyone’s time.
Mistake #2. Not identifying the desired level of learning. The fallback instructional method for trainers tends to be lecture, which can only provide knowledge. You need to know what the participants should be able to do when they leave the training. Based on that information, you can decide if the desired level of learning is comprehension, application, analysis, evaluation or creation- and select the appropriate learning activities to achieve that level.
Mistake #3. Cramming too much information into one training session. First, there is only so much information that learners can absorb at one time. Otherwise, they have cognitive overload. Second, the need to deliver lots of information tends to result in a long lecture, which will probably not accomplish the desired level of learning or meet the needs of other learning styles. Third, you need to manage your clients’ expectations and give them just-in-time training in effective adult learning principles. Focus on the critical information and provide reference materials to support the remaining information. This way you can take the time necessary to check for participant comprehension and give them an opportunity to apply what they have learned.
Mistake #4. Putting times on agendas. You need the flexibility to take more or less time when you need it, depending on the group. If you write times next to agenda items, some participants will start to worry if the session is not where the agenda says it should be. Save the participants from needless concern and yourself from unnecessary aggravation. Put the times on your agenda, not theirs.
Mistake #5. Placing all training information on Power Point slides. Training information belongs in the participants’ manuals or handouts. Power Point should only be used to augment the training, not deliver the training. It is an audiovisual on which there should just be a few points or pictures per slide that emphasize or summarize important content.
Following these suggestions will help to ensure that you train the right people at the right learning level with the right amount of information and the right learning activities.
May your learning be sweet.