A Short Guide on Creative Training Design
I think that creative training design is an integral part of both employee and company growth; but only if done the right way with true pedagogy in mind. It’s not enough that people are trained using the given materials. Each set of trainees is different than the next and with such a short time and limited resources for imparting knowledge, skills and attitudes, the training has to stick.
I think that the right process in training people starts with knowing the trainees and tailoring the teaching method and techniques to their learning strengths. This means that there will probably be more work done before the actual training. You should also take into consideration what the company culture and tone of the training is to determine the right exercises and techniques.
As trainer and consultant here are steps on how to go through a creative training design and the training itself so that the maximum results and impact are achieved. I’ve added some of my own insights and experiences to this list that will prove useful as well. Here are some guidelines that I know will contribute to a good training program:
1. The trainer is the focal point of the whole exercise, so you need to be able to show that you’re knowledgeable, confident and can keep everyone focused on you. A great trainer is passionate and is a good storyteller.
2. Always confirm that the purpose of the training has been validated and that conducting training is a concrete solution. Training design should reflect the results wanted at the end of sessions and it really is the solution to performance issues.
3. Do not restrict yourself to one teaching mode. People learn through all their senses but some senses are more receptive for other people. Conduct interviews and gauge if the group has a more optical, aural or practical learners. But something visual is always easy to produce and can appreciated by everyone. I’m my case I always work in workshop style. I use business cases, Lego Serious Play, creativity and Design Thinking tools to develop the participant’s skills. To improve memorisation and the participant’s learning experience, I believe that every training should be participative, fun and enjoyable.
4. Determine the tone and culture of your participants and align it with the material. If you’re teaching technical, formal courses then you should maintain the right distance. Make sure not to go nearer than a foot of each participant. If you’re conducting a different kind of training like me, though, in a more or less informal tone, talk within the groups and sit next to the participants during activities and exercises.
5. Training design and training needs assessment is the most important part of the process. The preparation and research on your participants is more important than the training itself. Only through careful planning, good design and needs assessment of the participants can determine the program and exercises that suit them best.
6. Even if you must plan extensively, do not be too rigid. A common mistake that I’ve seen trainors make is to stick too harshly to the material. I always leave room for an exercise as spontaneous as an action song or a game. Gauge the mood of the participants and use some serious games and other pick-me-ups if the material gets too heavy or they’re overwhelmed with information.
7. Always be open to questions and suggestions. However, you must learn to screen them and answer appropriately. If you don’t feel confident with the material or with a certain topic, do not call for questions (In this case you should not give the training). But if someone asks something nonetheless, make sure you will get back to them after a bit of research. During the training ask always for feedback and suggestions so you can incorporate them during or into your training design in later sessions.
Essentially, great training design involves strenuous preparation but the expertise to balance and analyse all the data you get from training needs assessment. You must be focused on results and that the training is really what the company needs to improve performance and people skills.