Training and Teaching Expert Advice

Are you facing a training challenge? We hear a lot of them during our train-the-trainer courses. Perhaps we can help. Drop us a line, and you may just see the answer to your question here.

No NoDoz Needed

Dear Training Expert,

I lead a mandatory training course that I didn’t write. In a nutshell, the materials boring and dated. The program consists of PowerPoint, readings, and very few activities. I don’t enjoy delivering the program, and people in the class don’t seem to like it either. They’re on their phones, holding side conversations, and so forth. Can this program be saved, or should I just soldier on and not worry about it? 

Mark R.

Dear Mark,

Bad training design is a crime, and its effects can be long lasting. Without seeing your materials, we’re going to have a hard time giving specific advice. However, we can give you some basic guidelines to help you breathe a little life into your course.

The first step we suggest you find out is why/how your students will benefit from the program. If they care enough about the information, they’ll focus even if the design is less than great.

Find out why your participants should care about your topic, and spend some time having them discuss how they’ll benefit. By the way, you need to be a believer too. If you’re not enthusiastic, why should they be?

Next, if your content isn’t linear and doesn’t need to be taught sequentially, let the group vote on what you’ll cover first. If the content is linear, you might want to vote anyway. The information you gain will give you an idea as to what people care about and what they don’t.

Finally, the more you can have people stand up, move around, and work with different people, the better. Your goal should be to incorporate variety to maintain your participants’ attention and to ask throughout the course how they will use what you’re discussing.

About ten years ago, we put together some ideas to help people make lecture-based training more active. You can review those 25 activities on our site. 

Some of the activities described will work better than others.

We suggest you try some of the ideas and let the group know you are piloting a new approach and want their feedback. When it comes to knowing what they like, learners are smart, and if you’re open, they’re usually pretty honest too.

With those small changes, you should see some improvements in how others experience your course.