Monday, January 30, 2012

Book extract -training guidelines

What a feeling! My book is in the final stages of editing and will soon be available to all novice and seasoned trainers and facilitators.
I need a title please that is catchy and captures the essence of the book, so anyone who is really good at creating something fun and attention-grabbing, rewards will come your way....
Here is a brief extract from the book to provide you with the essential tips and guidelines for professional training design and delivery of sessions with that WOW factor:


Before we begin, let’s be clear on what physical tools you need in your kitbag. An electrician does not arrive at your home to do his work, without his tool-kit and so too trainers need essential items to bring along with them to sessions.

It is simply not sufficient to count on the venue or the client to have these available – they need to be part of how you show up at the session.

Markers – buy the best quality! There is nothing worse than ink that is running out.The’ Mr Sketch-It’ markers, if available, are really good for this purpose

Flip-chart paper – always carry extra sheets with you. Unless you are doing visual graphics, the quality of the paper is not that important

Tape – there is good artist tape that does not destroy walls. Check that the venue allows you to paste up the paper on to the walls. You might need pins for walls that are made of fabric. Some countries have ‘Blu-tak’ and this is a very useful product that you can use to attach flipcharts to walls without destroying the paint on the wall

Your laptop and good speakers to play music during breaks or if you want to show videos.If you have an Ipod, there are great speakers that you can purchase for this purpose. Ensure that the speakers are easily transportable so that you can move them easily if you travel.

For those facilitators who are travelling off-site, check to see what equipment including projectors is available.

If using any powerpoint slides, please buy a good ‘pointer’ that moves the slides along so that you do not have to stand next to the lectern or podium.

A stash of coloured post-its – always useful for different activities and to engage the group. Buy different colours, shapes and sizes. There is so much variety with these, so try not to be limited to plain yellow.

A pile of white and coloured paper – always useful for guiding participants through the day. This does not need to be high quality paper and can be in different sizes. You might also need to provide writing equipment such as pens, crayons or markers.

Name tags for participants – with your company logo on them if needed. We prefer name tags to the name tents that are sometimes placed on tables because when people are standing or moving tables, it is easier if they have name tags. If you are using name tags that stick to their jackets or shirts, ensure that you have good quality tags that do in fact stick well.

Have your own name tag as well – participants often forget your name if it is not repeated. Your personal branding is also important.

Prizes to award participants for contributing – these could be anything from the less healthy chocolate option to small surprise toys. We are always surprised at what participants will do to win a small prize and the effort they go to for this. It sets up a good feeling in the room and if the group is large enough, there is a positive sense of competitiveness.

Raid stores such as the $2 Shop for fun stickers saying ‘well done’ and ‘congratulations’. It sounds childish but again we generally find that in most groups, people are starved of recognition and these stickers do a great job of giving the ‘feel good’ factor.

I have attended sessions where these rewards were on the tables and participants have rewarded each other.

If you are working off-site, please check the arrangements for refreshments. We always carry our own bottle of water with us and you should be aiming to drink at least 6 glasses of water per day to keep your energy levels up.

You might also need to pack your own lunch if not available so have some snacks or fruit with you in case you need it.

We also like to use a rolling bag for storing the equipment if possible. No use injuring your back by dragging heavy satchels or bags on your shoulder. There are some great ones designed for trainers and you will find them on various training tool websites.

Any device that indicates the time – sometimes there is no clock on the wall and you might not be able to see your watch. Mobile phones are also good as long as it does not appear as though you are waiting on a call.

We have attended programs where mobile phones are very much part of the training and participants are encouraged to research on the internet or send text messages to the trainer asking questions. They could also be using various devices for different social media interactions.

If you are using a laptop and a projector, it is a good idea to download a timer off the internet.

If you place ‘timer’ into the search engine, several free ones that are available will come up. We find this useful because it keeps the participants on track and gives energy to the session. Put the timer up for activities that you are asking the groups to do. There is nothing worse than having a day drag on when groups are waiting for other groups to complete an activity. In fact, not completing the activity provides just as much learning...

Make sure that your laptop is in good working order and always have a back-up! Recently one of our training team was at an off-site and his laptop crashed. Fortunately he had a USB with his slides saved on them so that he could quickly load them on to another person’s laptop. He also had a hard copy of the slides so that if required he could have used flip chart paper to document the key messages of his session.

If you work as a contract trainer, you might also need your own projector. These are far less costly than they used to be several years ago and it might be a requirement for your contract work.

Generally in large venues, there is audio equipment and it is not usually necessary to have a lapel microphone. Decide whether you need to purchase this equipment if your work dictates that it is a requirement.

If you have the budget, spend some time looking at the on-line stores for more sophisticated games and activities. They always have deals and it is worth keeping an eye open for new products. There are often new games that are developed by the most creative designers and that become available in the marketplace. There is no doubt that these activities enhance sessions, create an energy in the room and all the research points to the extent to which they engage participants.

These activities range from simpler card games to more sophisticated games that rely on specially devised rules and equipment. The key to using these games effectively is to ensure that they are briefed and de-briefed clearly and that the participants know why they played, what lessons they learnt from the games and what they need to apply in their workplaces.

Recommended websites for purchasing training games are:

If you are going do visual facilitation, go to this major website for supplies.

It is also worthwhile signing up to the newsletters of these companies so that you are aware of new releases and different ways of utilising the games that you have.

If you are working off a budget, think about selecting games that you can re-cycle and re-use in different contexts and with different groups so that you get more bang for your buck. It is also worthwhile thinking about how you can adapt usual household utensils or office supplies to create your own games and activities.

The message though is:

Your toolbag needs to be filled with possible games, activities and techniques so that groups are involved in their learning and participate fully, whilst at the same time embedding their learning through actions and ‘light-bulb’ moments. It is a vitally important part of your design and delivery that your toolkit is bursting at the seams with activities that you have developed, read about or seen in action so that the engagement of the group is fully alive, vibrant and conducive to learning.

What this means in practice is that you never stop learning and I hope to never hear the excuse that your type of training is only suited to lecture mode.