Posted by Caveo Learning ● June 4, 2015

8 Steps to Get Training Initiatives Started Off Right

8_Steps.pngThose first few minutes of a training program are critically important. If you fail to engage and connect with your audience from the start, it becomes that much harder to win them over later.

Here are eight steps training facilitators should take at the beginning of training initiatives to lay a solid foundation for successful learning.

1. Create a bond through introductions.

Identify something that many participants have in common and state it in your introduction. For example, “We have all come together here in this location today to learn about...”

Introduce yourself and any management or administrative staff who may be in the room, and graciously thank the appropriate people for hosting you. Ask participants to introduce themselves and write their names on the name cards provided, so they can get to know each other better. Having the visual can be helpful, especially when working with unfamiliar names.

2. Establish common goals for the training program.

People may be participating in this training program for a wide variety of reasons. Your introduction can allow them to align with others who are there for the same reasons and validate whatever those reasons may be. For example, some people are participating because they have been told to do so, or it is required learning in order to achieve some certificate of completion. Let participants know that these are legitimate reasons to participate and that they are welcome to share in and contribute to the learning, even if they are simply fulfilling a requirement. Say something like, “Even if you are here only to gain a completion mark on your record, we hope you will join us in the engaging discussion and experiences that are planned for the day.”

There are probably others who may really want to learn new skills and are worried about not gaining the information quickly enough. You can explain that one of the goals of this training program is to build on whatever knowledge the participants enter the program with and that they will continue to increase their skill throughout the program.

Some individuals may think that they should be teaching instead of you. Head off their frustration by establishing a ground rule that those with experience and skill in the topic are invited to share their knowledge with others throughout the discussions. Converse with these individuals during break periods to form a positive rapport, and offer to share more advanced information with them at their request.

3. Focus on team-building.

Initiate a quick exercise that requires participants to find answers to some easy questions related to the topic being presented; this serves the dual purpose of laying some basic groundwork for the learning, but more importantly, it helps unite the group as a team and makes all participants feel welcome.

A similar team-building strategy is to have participants work in small groups to discuss a question related to the topic and combine their ideas to come up with a summary to briefly present back to the class. Ask a question like, “What do you want to know about this topic?” or “Why is this topic important to you?”

4. Foster a welcoming environment.

Help partcipants feel connected in pursuit of common goals along the learning journey. Invite them to stop you to ask questions or for clarification any time throughout the training program. Explain that people learn at different paces, and that by the end of the program, everyone will be able to achieve the learning objectives; therefore, they should not worry about asking you to slow down or speed up the presentation of certain elements of the program. This kind of feedback gives the learners a sense of control and helps you to stay on track at a pace that is optimum for their successful learning.

If the classroom training includes a global learning audience, listen intently to those participants who may have foreign accents, and make sure that all students are listening when each person is speaking. This avoids a common occurrence of people tuning out and having side conversations when it is difficult to understand someone. Don't be afraid to tell the group you are adjusting to their accent or to ask them to speak slowly.

5. Build in successes.

Start with activities that participants will be successful at completing, and keep course sections short enough so the topics will successfully build on previous knowledge and skill. Ask questions that are not too difficult to answer, so people feel that they are making progress in their learning journey.

6. Provide quick references.

Explain ways participants can quickly access information. For instance: “In the back of your workbook, you will find a glossary of terms and a quick reference guide; the tabbed sections in your workbook include these topics.” Hand out job aids so participants will have practice using them during the program.

7. Clearly outline the day's agenda.

Refer participants to the learning objectives to be achieved and read through each of them. Ask whether there are additional topics that should be considered. (You may need to make some choices as new topics come up, but at least you will know more about the group's needs and interests. Some topics may be handled as session follow-up.) Show the agenda for the program, and explain when and how long breaks will be scheduled, lunch times, etc. Explain administrative details, such as location of restrooms or wifi passwords.

8. Start with a powerful beginning.

Engaging participants in a “Wow!” experience right in the beginning of the program gets their attention on the topic to be learned. This can be done by showing captivating photographs and images of the success that can be gained by completing your program.

Creating an experience during which participants realize how much they do not already know about the topic can provide a powerful beginning. For example, have participants answer some simple questions that actually have surprising answers.

Topics: Training and Facilitation