How do you create successful training sessions? The answer lies, simply, in an ancient Chinese proverb:
I see, I forget
I hear, I remember
I do, I understand
Combining the principle of this proverb with some basic training pointers will help you improve your training sessions. Training is done to develop others because through them, you build better performance and a more profitable business.
Creating a good training session begins with climate setting and experiential training–two of the most important parts of any training program.
Climate setting means getting people comfortable so they’re ready to learn and experiential learning is learning by doing. Early in my career, I went to one workshop where the trainer, an expert in his field did things differently than almost every other training session I had been to. He didn’t start the session out by directing everyone into a room with straight rows of chairs. Nor did he drone on from behind a podium on the details of a training subject.
Instead, he was standing by the door as everyone came in to register. He personally greeted each person (about 40 in all) and offered everyone refreshments and coffee. Everyone got off to a good start by mingling and visiting in the meeting room.
The meeting room was set up comfortably with good lighting, ventilation, and an attractive decor. Round tables set with six places were spaced throughout the room.
Once seated, each person introduced himself. After the introduction an energizer exercise was set up to help us get acquainted with the people at our table. In just a few minutes, everyone was comfortable and actively involved in the workshop. Yet the trainer didn’t control the pace or the content–we did.
In reality, he was controlling the workshop by setting the climate. This all made it easier for us to get into the experiential learning part to come, meaning learning by doing.
As the program began the trainer acted as a resource and shared some of his experiences. Instead of dutifully listening, he engaged us so we became busy working on activities in small groups at our tables. Our ideas and comments helped reinforce the objectives of the program. We became open-minded and started to learn.
This workshop changed my thinking about how successful training sessions should be conducted. Before, I always felt the trainer should be the expert and be responsible for what everyone in the group learned.
Research indicates that people–especially adults–don’t learn as well in that traditional, school-type setting. Adults are generally self-motivated and independent. And, past experiences provide a rich resource for training that is real-life oriented and problem centered. Adults learn best if they have a relaxed, informal working relationship with the trainer. The training is more meaningful when everyone takes part in determining the needs, the goals, the content, and how the session will operate.
While your training sessions will be different than the workshop I attended, the basic things I learned can help make any training session or meeting run smoother with better results.
As a trainer or a manager responsible for training, your role has three parts: First, to help people help themselves and others by using their skills. Second, to build on everyone’s skills through learning-by-doing activities. Third, to be thoroughly prepared with great content and process of training delivery.
I find, when running a training session that standing in front of a group isn’t as important as:
* letting people get to know each other
* finding out what they need and expect
* sharing experiences and relevant information
* developing a plan that suits the group
* providing activities for involving the group
If you get the participants involved in your training sessions, they’ll learn by experience and they’ll remember what they learned. Just like the proverb says, when “I do, I understand.”