Five Tips for Developing an Effective Training Course

My teacher friends are on their way back to school this week. Even though they have taught for years, they've been working hard preparing lesson plans. They know, preparation is key, whether it's children or adults.

Five Helpful Training Prep Tips

Imagine if you were taking a class and the instructor walked up and said, "What should we talk about today?" You would walk out, and rightly so.

An effective employee training session is only as effective as the prep that went into it.  Here are five steps to ensure the next course you put together is as good as it can get.

1. Specify Goals. Clarify what you want to teach. Know exactly what you want everyone in the class to walk away with.

 2. Training materials. There’s nothing more frustrating than an instructor that shows up with the wrong materials. Make sure you have all the necessary tools. If possible, run a sample course just to make sure.

3. Choose a good location. A great location can make all the difference. A few things to check out are good lighting, ambient sounds, ample parking, etc. I once taught a class at the University of Washington where I was going to Skype a producer out-of-state. It was only after I got into the classroom I found out it didn’t have Wi-Fi. The class was, as you can image, a bust.

4. Rewards. Make sure that employees can see the value of the course. Will it be a great addition to their professional portfolios? Help them advance at their current job? Make them safer? It doesn’t hurt to provide certificates of completion as well.

5. Measured results. Before you start, know how you will measure the results. Without measurable results, it's almost impossible to view training as anything but an expense. Determine what kind of growth or other measure is a reasonable result of the training you provide. (And it's easier to find budgets for future courses if you demonstrate concrete results.)  

Ask any school teacher how to get the most out of a class. The answer will be the same. It’s all in the preparation.

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor--with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.