Training Deliveryby Terry Wilkinson
Keeping on track
In order for people to learn effectively, the session needs to follow a logical sequence, so that delegates understand where they are. The pace of the training needs to be adjusted to the learning speed of the group, but at the same time you must deal with the content in the time allocated. So how do we do this? Here are some helpful techniques.
These techniques can be used as stand-alone interventions, but for best effect you may need to use a combination of several, depending on the situation.
Managing the flow of a training session
As the training progresses, pay attention and ask yourself
- Are we losing focus on each topic/concept?
- Are we introducing irrelevant information?
- Are the shared experiences relevant?
- Are discussions reaching conclusions before moving on?
- Are we spending too much time on any topic?
- Are we linking learning back to earlier discussions?
- Are we moving on before topics are fully understood?
- Is the need to resolve an issue preventing us from moving forward?
Manage the process
As the training progresses
- Pay attention to what delegates are saying and how it relates to the topic
- When a discussion gets off track, refer to the agenda, outcomes or ground rules to refocus the group
- Provide summaries of key points and ask for agreement before moving on
To summarise what we’ve said... Is that right?
- Keep the group aware of where they are in the process. Use the agenda when leaving one activity and moving to the next: ‘Now we’ve covered... let’s move on to... ’
Manage the pace
When the group is looking bored, tired and tetchy, or if energy is flagging, these are all signs that the pace is too slow. Try
- Asking the group what they think of the pace
- Taking a short break
- Introducing a quick energising ice-breaker
Try something simple, such as a quick quiz or activity.
- For example, ask each person to write down their favourite colour, animal and type of water (waterfall, river, bath and so on), then ask them to record two adjectives which describe each. Get each group member to read out what they got for the colour. After everyone has spoken, tell them this describes how people see them; the two words for the animal describe their perfect partner, while the two words for the water describe their sex life! It’s not serious, but raises a laugh!
- Get them to draw a self portrait.
- Ask them to describe themselves as a car or animal and explain why.
- Get them to come up with an advert for a singles column or what they would like their epitaph to say on their gravestone!
- Moving quickly into an activity or exercise where the group need to move around
- Suggesting small-group work in other rooms/areas, if possible
- Picking up the pace yourself – speak more briskly, increase the volume, use active body language and cover the material faster.
When the pace is too fast, there are usually signs: the group may look confused and be having difficulty following the material; they may ask lots of clarification questions or whiz through the material at a surface level without really understanding it. If this is happening, try
- Asking the group what they need to help them understand
- Summarising where you are in the session to date and the key points covered so far
- Slowing down your own pace – slow your rate of speech, lower the volume, sit down, display relaxed body language and cover the material more slowly.
Role-plays are one of the most difficult types of exercise for a trainer to run. How often have you checked on a group only to find they are discussing instead of practising or they are confused about what they are doing?
Here are some helpful tips for managing the before, during and after stages of role-plays.
- Give step-by-step instructions.
- Check for understanding.
- Use visuals – handouts, OHPs or flipcharts – to illustrate the process.
- Verify that everyone has read, understood and is comfortable with their allotted role.
- Suggest they make notes as to what they will actually say during the role-play.
- Circulate and observe all the practices to ensure all delegates are on track before spending any time with each; if they are off track, you need to fix it quickly.
- Coach them back on track to build their understanding of the process for the next time.
- Make sure everyone practises.
- Notice the key areas of strength and difficulty, so you know what to emphasise in the rest of the session.
- Reconvene on time.
- Ask for examples of success with new skills.
- Ask for areas of difficulty.
- Focus on the skills, not how to solve role-play scenarios.
- Encourage continued use of skills.