My Answers from LinkedIn (Fourth in an Occasional Series)

As noted in the first post of this series, I am posting answers to procedure and training-related questions posted on the LinkedIn groups I participate in. As appropriate, I will expand on answers here (read, I thought of additional things to say).

A training question, which I actually find more rewarding than procedure development (since procedure development is aimed to facilitate effective training)

Experienced producer but first time trainer needs some advice. Next month I start running courses teaching business people filming and presenting techniques. I know my subject as I’ve got 23 years broadcast experience behind me, but devising and running training is new. What are your top tips as well as the pitfalls to avoid? Thanks for your advice.

First
of all, congratulations! I have always loved training and while my professional focus today is more on writing, I still develop presentations for the engineers who install my company’s systems and teach our customers how to use them.

I will try to boil this down to a few essentials:

1. Be enthusiastic and passionate about what you will be teaching. A big part of successful training and teaching is convincing your students that what you have to share actually matters and will make their lives better by learning. If you exhibit passion for the subject matter, they will more likely become passionate as well.

2. Building and presenting training is like building a building. The foundation you lay is essential. You want to be able to lay out a plan for the training: this is the basic topic (a position, a role, a task, whatever); here is what the topic consists of; here is how we will learn it and here is how we will measure the learning.

3. Be able to identify what the students will be able to do at the end of the training. That ties in with no. 2.

4. Break the subject matter into manageable pieces. In training, I use a concept that I liken to “wading into progressively deeper water.” I start with basic stuff and “foundational
truths,” that I will circle back to repeatedly as I layer new information onto old (that is an effective adult learning technique).

5. Define all terms you use. As an expert, be very careful about the terms and jargon you use. You can very unintentionally build a barrier between you and your audience by talking like an expert while they are novices.

6. Give lots of opportunities for feedback. Ask open-ended questions, use examples that may be commonly understood by the audience.

7. If at all possible, move rapidly between lecture/discussion and hands-on activity. The human mind shuts down after about 40 minutes of non-stop yakking.

8. Always be respectful, remembering there are no stupid questions, and one of the quickest ways to block a learner is through disrespect.

9. Be aware that this is a learning experience for you as well. You may know your subject through and through, but through sharing and repetition, you will discover more effective ways to present the information. Be cognizant of what works and what doesn’t. And prepare yourself now for some things not to work. If something falls flat, admit it and move on. If you never make any mistakes in your training, you have only proven you have not reached your performance limit (you can’t know your performance limit until you’ve
passed it and had a “crash and burn” experience. It will happen, but it’s not the end of the world.).

10. Be as determined as possible to make the experience as fun as possible for you and your learners. People learn more in a fun environment.

Each of these points above can easily be expanded into a whole series of posts. The intention of this answer was to lay a foundation. Training is a very rewarding job, and the aim should be to make it a mutually rewarding experience for both learner and teacher. If one of these points strikes you the reader as one you would like to see expanded, let me know!

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About Tim James "Mr. Procedure"

A communicator; all-purpose capability in writing, designing and presenting training for all facets of organizational function. While my focus has been manufacturing, my training/development experience includes supervisory and lead person development, audit processes, continuous improvement and Lean, and Quality Management System implementation.
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