Practical Support for the Changing World at Work 
Linda F. Willing
P.O. Box 148
Grand Lake, CO
80447
970-627-3732
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Training Tip Archives

2000  2001  2002  2003  2004  2005  2006 2007 2008

December 2005

Developing New Teachers  The best way to develop skills as a trainer is to get out there and teach others. Many people have abilities and experiences that would be valuable to share, but lack the confidence or organizational skills to be good teachers of others. Find ways to give everyone an opportunity to share knowledge, even if it is just a 10 minute demonstration of a tool or procedure within another class. Including everyone in your potential instructor pool will build confidence and increase buy-in for training generally.

November 2005

New Clips  You're not stuck using the same old clip art you've always used for slide presentations. With digital cameras and scanners, it is easy to customize the graphics you use in presentations. Try taking pictures of familiar places and people to enhance your text. But be cautious; advances in technology makes it easy to crowd a presentation with graphics and illustrations. Use only what will add to and not distract from the message you will personally deliver.

October 2005

Tell the Story   Many people making persuasive presentations try to dazzle their audiences with mountains of data or flashy PowerPoint shows. But numerous studies show that telling an effective story, even without any graphic support, is the most effective way of connecting with an audience. Stories must be concise and should clearly illustrate the underlying principles of the presentation in language that is easily understood by those listening.

September 2005

Clarifying Expectations  If there are specific requirements for the completion of a class you are teaching, it is a good idea to put those expectations in writing and discuss them early in the class process. Include due dates, reading assignments, and details about any work that will be presented or handed in. Make sure every student has a copy and ask that all students keep their copies with them throughout the class so you can continually refer to the listed expectations and answer any questions that may arise. 

August 2005

Giving Feedback  In some classes, students will be expected to give feedback to their peers. Feedback in such circumstances is often not useful because it is either too critical or else watered down. To produce better in-class feedback, create some guidelines and expectations up front, such as:

  • Feedback should be made in "I" statements, not "you" statements. "I didn't understand what you meant in the second part" as opposed to "You weren't clear in the second part."
  • Feedback should be descriptive rather than prescriptive. "The opening story didn't work for me" as opposed to "You should have told the story about the grass fire instead."
  • Feedback should not take the form of personal criticism. "I didn't get the joke you told" as opposed to "You may think you're funny but you're not."

July 2005

Setting Goals  All training should have clear goals attached to it. What is the problem or situation that needs to be addressed? How will the training specifically address the needs of the moment? Even training that seems repetitive should be presented in this context, such as continuing education sessions for recertifications. Even if you've attended a dozen classes on CPR or sexual harassment, you should still be learning at least one new thing at every class.

June 2005

Defining Breaks  It is a good idea at the beginning of any class to set expectations for what kinds of breaks will occur. You might choose to have frequent official breaks, say every hour, or you may conduct longer sessions and give people permission to get up and leave the room as needed. Whatever you choose to do, consider the following: 

  • Allow for adequate official breaks during longer classes. 

  • Provide for some type of refreshments during breaks. 

  • Set clear expectations for how often breaks will be given and how long they will be. 
  • Stand by whatever you have led participants to expect in terms of taking breaks. 

May 2005

Contact Information  Any handout material provided for a presentation should include some contact information, if only the name of the person doing the presentation and the name of the organization. This applies even to classes that are given within one's own organization. For presentations given to any other group, complete contact information, including phone number and email address, should be provided. Handout material is often passed on to those who did not attend the class, and those people should know who to contact with any questions they may have.


April 2005

Late Arrivals What should an instructor do when people routinely show up late to a scheduled class? Having people come in past the designated time of the class is disruptive and unfair to those who do arrive on time. Consider the following: 

  • Start the class on time with those who are there, possibly after a short grace period of around five minutes.
  • Don't plan activities in the first part of the class that would require all members to be present.
  • Do not repeat yourself to accommodate late arrivals.
  • Reward those who are on time with candy or other treats that are not available later.
  • Determine if the lateness is situation specific or part of a pattern of behavior.
  • If real conflicts exist, consider changing the class start times so that lateness is not inevitable. 

March 2005

Customize Your Presentation  Never go before a group with only a generic presentation and no knowledge of the specific needs of the group you are addressing. Relying only on a stock slide presentation without any ability to respond to local concerns will undermine your credibility from the start. Take the time to ask a few questions of your host. Who will be attending? What are their backgrounds? What are they looking for from the presentation? Even this level of customization will make a big difference in how your program will be received.

February 2005

Round Table Discussions  When setting up seating for large gatherings, consider a round table configuration as opposed to the standard auditorium set-up. Using tables that accommodate 8-10 people each is a good way to create an environment where group discussions can occur even among larger groups. It is very difficult to sustain a full class discussion in groups of more than 30 or 40 people, but when smaller groups are created by table seating, discussions can take place within this format and then be summarized by the facilitator for the entire group.  

January 2005 

Sound Check  When speaking to a group in an unfamiliar room, always do a sound check early on. Don't just do it from one place in the room; you will probably be moving around, and need to be heard no matter where you are standing. Specifically ask those in the back row if they can hear you. Make eye contact with them and ask for a definite answer. And remember this rule of thumb: If you can't clearly see the people in the back row, then they probably can't hear you. In that case, use a microphone.

 

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