12 Tips for Effective Training Courses

12 Tips for Effective Training Courses - rear view of young office workers in casual outfits listening to a trainerWhether you are training staff, or customers in the use of your products, it is essential to provide effective training. Only this will ensure that they develop in their roles and are able to be as productive as possible. Training should be cost effective and meet learning objectives, so as a training facilitator it’s important to get it right first time.

These 12 tips cover all the critical areas you must consider to ensure your training delivery is top notch and fully effective.

Training Needs Analysis

There should be a regular review of training courses to ensure they meet the needs of the business. Analyse those training needs as often as necessary, based on the size and diversity of the business. Training catalogues should also clearly describe the content and learning objectives to avoid people enrolling on the wrong courses.

Review material

All training material, including physical workbooks, tests, exercises and IT training systems, should be reviewed at least annually. Record review dates on all material and be aware of changes affecting training. Out-of-date training material is a risk to the business, as it leads to errors, complaints and potential financial loss or damage to reputation.

Know your stuff

Be prepared before you deliver training. Allow adequate time to review and familiarise yourself with content and exercises. Ensure you have a training plan that describes learning objectives and expected outcomes for each day, so you stay in control. You may have delivered the course before, but still need to make sure you are aware of any changes. Ill-prepared trainers don’t inspire confidence, nor do they deliver to objectives or on time.

Variety is good

Consider different learning styles and ensure you have plenty of different types of exercises or examples to demonstrate models and concepts. You may not use them all, but will have a varied suite to choose from, giving you the flexibility to adapt to the needs of the group. Time and experience will tell which of these are most effective. Being too limited with your delivery style could present a barrier to learning.

Engage your audience

Make the learning experience as interactive as possible. Adopt the “tell, show, do” model and get your delegates working on exercises that put into practice the concepts you have taught. Use tests often, as they will appeal to your audience’s competitive spirit and are an excellent way to consolidate learning.

Set up systems

If your training involves practical work using IT systems, make sure these are working correctly in advance. If delegates require unique accounts to access systems, set these up and test them early enough to resolve any issues. Failure to do so risks embarrassment and puts your training schedule in jeopardy.

Don’t waste time

A sure way to get off to a bad start is to waste half your opening morning on tedious ice-breakers. It is important to put people at ease and allow time for introductions, but keep any games short and relevant. Don’t leave the room outside break times unless absolutely necessary, and then only for the shortest possible time. Doing so leaves your delegates unsupported and feeling you are not engaged with them.

Set boundaries

The training environment can be a tricky one to manage, as trainees will often arrive with expectations of a more relaxed atmosphere than their day job. This can lead to loss of interest and inappropriate behaviour, such as poor timekeeping. Avoid this by setting a clear expectation on day one of what is and isn’t acceptable.

Set and review objectives

Any training course should follow a written brief. Share this with all delegates, even if only at a high level. It’s important that everyone understands what the learning objectives are for each day. It’s equally important to review these objectives at the close of each day to check everyone has absorbed the key learning points. You may need to revisit areas of weakness later, either with individuals or the whole group.

Contingency plan

Make sure you allow time for questions each day, and reserve some time at the end of the course in order to go back over any areas needing a refresh, or to allow for minor overruns if you fall behind schedule. You might also need to provide individual coaching for trainees who haven’t grasped a particular point. You should also plan for the possibility that you have a strong group who finish the course ahead of time.

Don’t be too nice

You need to strike up a rapport with the group, but maintain a position of authority and gain their respect. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to ensure that learning objectives are met and that you keep control of timings and delivery of content. Additionally, you must ensure that delegates become self-sufficient and retain the skills and knowledge they gain in training once they leave the classroom.

Post-course assessments

The best way to understand how effective your training has been is to ask the audience. You should do this immediately after the course finishes, to get first impressions about the content, delivery and environment. However, you should also gather feedback three to six months after the event, from both the delegates and their managers. This will complete your understanding of how effective the learning was back in the workplace, and is an essential tool in fine-tuning your course material for future events.

Effective Training Courses: Conclusion

If you give time and consideration to these 12 essential areas, you will leave no room for error. It will ensure that your course material is relevant, accurate and up to date, and that your audience is fully engaged with the content. Additionally, you will meet learning objectives in the most efficient and effective way. And you will find the post-course feedback to be increasingly positive.