Creating Training That Actually Works
Creating Training That Actually Works
The beginning of a new year often signals a time of refresh within many organizations.
Behind you is the hard-won wisdom of the prior year; ahead - potential and uncharted territory. Businesses often find themselves needing to communicate new concepts and educate teams on processes, procedures and skills, but may not have a Learning & Development (L&D) team to lean on.
Here are five ways to improve your training instantly when setting out on your learning endeavor.
Ask: Is this even training?
It’s tempting to believe that if you need an employee to know or do something new, it’s training. However, a good amount of the requests many L&D teams receive are actually communication. “Here’s a new website link,” or “do this task one time.” However, training solves a business problem, undergoes a thorough design & development process, is delivered in a learner-centric methodology and has measurable output or knowledge transfer. The line can certainly be blurry between training and communication, but if you’re not driving long-term behavior change, you’re most likely communicating, not training.
Decide: What do people need to learn?
Congratulations! True-enough training is necessary. Now it’s time to establish your learning objectives. This is more than a meeting agenda. Learning objectives let learners know what is expected of them, in what timeframe, and how they know they’ve been successful in learning what you’ve asked of them. Adult learners, in particular, need to understand why your training matters and what is in it for them. Adults bring many life experiences to the table and a belief system through which they filter information. Without a compelling WIIFM (what’s in it for me), you're about to have a very reluctant learner on your hands.
Keep. It. Simple. (no need for name-calling here). Gone are the days of hours-long webinars where details are crammed into every nook, cranny and footnote. It’s not an effective learning strategy, and our tolerance for marathon sessions is decreasing. Current research shows that the adult attention span is only about 20 minutes, so more than ever, learners are looking to get the information they need and get back to work. Adopting a true culture of learning, where education is omnipresent and available on-demand, allows for the more palatable micro-learning or short-session approach. Consider chunking a topic into a handful of micro-learning videos or job aids. For live sessions, be sure you’re not exceeding three to four learning objectives; fewer, if you can keep your training to 30 minutes.
Engage: Bueller? Bueller?
Though micro-learning is great, how do you keep learners engaged in longer live training sessions? The answer: incorporate interaction every 5 minutes. Without careful planning, it’s possible to find yourself in a Ben Stein situation on a live Zoom training (#covid), praying that someone, anyone, will respond. Instead, make a plan for your learners to participate in the session actively. For larger audiences, use polling and chat functions with specific questions developed in advance. For smaller groups that can join in the conversation, have one!
Warm the group up initially, set the tone and expectation that they are about to have a fun, interactive, even unpredictable experience, and vary your presentation style throughout. Have music on with a slide on the screen as participants enter or leave for breaks. Have them engage on the other side of the screen by sending them into Zoom breakout rooms, watch a video “offline” and report back, and have them get up to move around at least once an hour. We all know what long, boring sessions look and feel like. Don’t do that.
Evaluate: Did they learn it?
Some trainers spend their entire session sharing information before having a 2-minute Q&A and rushing off, but that’s prime mental real estate! Conducting a live learning check, such as playing a game, having a pop quiz or asking learners to teach concepts to each other, will really drive your concepts home. As for post-session evaluation, gauging the transfer of learning is the last but not least step in the training process. You can do this in a number of methods, like knowledge checks, surveys or skill demonstrations. Finally, don’t forget to evaluate your own training experience using WWW/EBI — What Went Well / Even Better If. There is always room for improvement.
Keep these concepts in mind as you’re building your training. It will pay dividends in the engagement you see. It will create learners where there were once mere attendees. And skills and knowledge will not only be adopted but also shared. Training can be engaging, impactful and, I dare say, fun. Your learners will thank you for your efforts and enjoyable training experience!