“Strong people make as many and as ghastly mistakes as weak people. The difference is that strong people admit them, laugh at them, and learn from them. That is how they become strong.” Richard J. Needham
A good training plan, good content and good learning activities do not automatically ensure a good training experience. The trainer is ultimately responsible for establishing and maintaining an effective learning environment. This begins with training room and training process logistics.
Mistake #1. Not preparing the room. Check all audiovisual equipment and hook ups before the session, to make sure everything is in operating order. Cover or tape down extension cords so that no one trips over them. Have a backup plan in case there is a problem with equipment or software.
Mistake #2. Not checking to see if everyone can hear and see during the session. Always circle the room before a session begins to make sure that all participants will be seated where they can see you and any audiovisuals without obstruction. Move tables and chairs to make adjustments. Then, at the beginning of the session, ask participants to let you know if they can’t hear you or other participants. Also ask them if their seat gives them a clear view and, if not, have them move.
Mistake #3. Not giving breaks. Brain studies have found that people’s brains become overloaded after 50 minutes. If you give the participants ten minute breaks every fifty minutes, you will reap two major benefits. First, they will stay more alert and focused. Second, there will be more beginning and endings to the lesson, which is when participants are most ripe for learning.
Mistake #4. Moving closer to participants who speak too softly. Although it is counterintuitive, you need to move away from soft-spoken people. This will encourage them to speak more loudly so that you (and the rest of the group) can hear them. If you move closer, you will be the only person able to hear what the participant says. In that event, you will continually need to repeat what was said so the group can hear it. This is a great way to lose your voice.
Mistake #5. Talking too much. Limit your lecture to ten minutes, which will keep it a “lecturette.” Then check for participant comprehension by asking or opening up for questions, showing relevant pictures, or assigning a learning activity where the participants have to apply what they have learned so far.
Avoiding these five mistakes will help to ensure that everything possible has been done to set up an effective learning experience and maintain a comfortable learning environment.
May your learning be sweet.