How to Create an Effective Training Environment
As a trainer, you need to take advantage of everything you can in order to deliver a session conducive to retentive learning for your attendees. The process includes setting up an environment in which the participants can actively take part in their learning experience. In addition, of course, you need to create a program that will be interesting and beneficial to the cohort. In this article, I am going to focus on the tools you can use to enhance your presentation and make it more effective.
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Here are some helpful guidelines that will make your training sessions for effective.
I Standard Equipment to Have in the Training Room:
Certain adjuncts to a training session should be part of the setup for any training room and whenever possible, you should ensure that they are available to you by requesting them when the workshop is booked. Below is a list of the most common needs for any successful trainer to have at their disposal for an effective workshop.
- A Whiteboard or blackboard. This “tool” is useful when debriefing group discussion exercises so that the entire cohort can find out what others have talked about during the exercise.
- Flipchart and coloured markers. This option gives you another way to debrief exercises or to have the attendees use for their part in an exercise. It can be more beneficial than a whiteboard or blackboard as you are limited in space or need to wipe off what you are recording in the debrief. In addition, sometimes is it useful to be able to actually use pieces of the flipchart for the attendees to use in the activity or to be able to put pages up on the wall for further exploration during the session.
Finally, complex flipchart pages can be prepared before the program begins which allows you to save time during the session.
- Always have some blank paper ready in case you need some for exercises or if attendees want paper to write on during the presentation. (That will only be necessary if you are not planning to provide a handout with room for notetaking and exercise work.)
- Pens or pencils. Strangely enough, experience has taught me that many people who attend a course do not carry a pen! Therefore it is a good idea to have some spare pens handy to accommodate those unprepared attendees.
- LCD Projectors, screen, and laptop. The use of PowerPoint slides for presentation and training is now not only extremely popular, but often expected. They are helpful in focussing the attendees on the key points you wish to speak about as well as reminding you of the key points you wish to speak about. Nonetheless, be sure to create simple slides with relevant graphics and little text, as your audience can read your slides faster than you can speak them. I have found it is best to bring my own laptop with the program loaded up on it, however, just in case there is a problem with the “hook up” it is a good idea to always bring your PowerPoint on a flash drive, as well as your own adaptor or HDMI cable to ensure that the hook-up will work. And, of course, before you begin your presentation, make sure that you can easily operate the projector and that your laptop works with it. Coming early to get setup is always a good idea as then you have time to rectify any issues that may arise before the attendees arrive for the session.
- Interactive boards. These display boards with a touch screen capability are becoming increasingly popular. The only problem is this, if you have not used one before, you will definitely need to arrive early and have someone help you learn how to manage this piece of equipment if you are to use it successfully.
- Internet access. If you need internet access in order to use particular content during the workshop (such as streaming videos or websites), it is a good idea to test the connection beforehand and always have a backup plan just in case the internet connection is not available. In fact, it if you do require this, it would be an excellent idea to check on that with the organization who has invited you to speak and let them arrange it for you.
- Trainer Notes. It is a good idea to prepare an outline with notes when you are creating a presentation. This part of the preparation can guide you with the timing, the key elements you wish to include, what exercises you wish to offer and how to conduct the debriefing. It will also help you to relax because you will know that you can always refer to those notes if you need to. The more you prepare and practice the greater your confidence will be that you will be able to deliver this program well.
- Exercise sheets and other training materials. Depending on what you are planning to include as activities for reinforcing the concepts presented, will determine what sorts of hard copy or other materials you will need to bring along or have provided by the contractor. It is a good idea to plan ahead and keep these items well organized so that you introduce your activities easily and professionally.
II How Lighting Can Make a Difference
- Another critical environmental parameter to consider is the lighting. In many situations this is something you may have no control over, however, there are a few things to consider and if possible, arrange for.
- Dim lighting tends to put people to sleep. Whereas bright light can be distracting and in some cases can even generate headaches. The most ideal light is natural sunlight, not too bright and not too gloomy. Outside light is ideal as long as the view through the windows doesn’t distract the attendees. Otherwise, you might need to use an alternative source of light and cover the distracting view.
- If you need to dim the light in order for your slides to show well, you may only need to dim the lights close to the screen and not all the lights in the room.
When providing training your central aim is to make sure that the participants remain actively engaged in your program so creating sessions that include various exercises for attendees to do on their own, with a partner or in groups is the best way to actively involve them in their learning experience. In addition, the participants will better recall what they come up with than what your “spoon feed” to them. So unless you are teaching something very technical, you can expect your audience to be able to collaboratively come up with answers to discussion questions or to be able to resolve typical scenarios that they experience with the new techniques you are offering. In this way, it also reinforces the learning and shows them why they are learning the approaches and therefore there will be a better chance that will actually start using the new material to help them be more successful in their work outcomes.
Remember, the tools are there to enhance your presentation, you are the presenter and you have only a couple of minutes to grab your audience and then keep them engaged during your workshop, so create an enticing opener!
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