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How to increase the effectiveness of your training

How to increase the effectiveness of your training

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Page 1 Page 2  HAROLD TAYLOR, CSP, HOF HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING A TOOL KIT OF SUGGESTIONS FOR TRAINERS AND SPEAKERS 2 Page 3 How to increase the effectiveness of your training: A tool kit of suggestions for trainers and speakers 1st edition © 2014 Harold Taylor & bookboon.com ISBN 978-87-403-0670-5 3 Page 4 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Contents CONTENTS 1 Purpose, planning and preparation 7 1.1 Invest time in planning 7 1.2 Training program objectives 7 1.3 Applying research to training 8 1.4 Bridging the gap from research to application 8 1.5 Create an atmosphere for learning 10 1.6 Success is in the little things 11 1.7 Develop a personalized checklist 12 1.8 Schedule training during peak learning times 14 1.9 What day is best? 15 1.10 Take a lesson from business meetings 16 A C A R EER W I T H I N F I N A N CE & I T Denmark’s largest provider of financial software solutions needs YOU! 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Care to join us? – Visit us at www.simcorp.com SIMCORP A/S · Oslo Plads 12 · DK-2100 Copenhagen O · Denmark · +45 35 44 88 00 · www.simcorp.com 4 Page 5 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Contents 2 Designing the training program 17 2.1 Break your material into modules 17 2.2 Provide valuable material in student notes. 17 2.3 Watch for those urban legends 18 2.4 Record your sources 19 2.5 Avoid information overload 19 2.6 Don’t ignore the basics 20 2.7 Training an aging population 20 2.8 Keep up with the times 21 3 It’s not who you know but how much you know about those you know 23 3.1 Do your homework before the training starts 23 3.2 Pre-program questionnaire 23 3.3 Get input from the participants themselves whenever possible 25 3.4 Time Problem Survey 26 3.5 Introduce yourself before you’re introduced 29 4 Getting off to a good start 30 4.1 The cell phone dilemma 30 4.2 Should we be focusing on their learning styles? 31 4.3 Grab their attention 31 4.4 Effective learning 32 4.5 Be prompt returning from breaks 32 4.6 Show & tell as a training tool 32 4.7 Don’t let your knowledge interfere with results 33 4.8 Don’t overwhelm your students with options 34 5 The most important factor in learning is student involvement 35 5.1 You don’t have to be an expert in a topic to teach it 35 5.2 Getting involvement through questions 36 5.3 Ice breakers are fun 37 5.4 Group involvement 37 5.5 Don’t assume ownership of other people’s problems 38 5 Page 6 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Contents 6 The use of stories in training 39 6.1 Stories are modern day parables 39 6.2 Attitude is important in making time management ideas work 40 7 Educational toys for adults 42 7.1 Fun and games 42 7.2 A practical demonstration of prioritizing 43 7.3 Illustrating the inefficiency in multitasking 43 7.4 Illustrating multitasking to groups 44 7.5 The power of a thought 45 7.6 Getting involvement with stress dots 47 7.7 A time management classic 47 8 The training is not over until you see the results 50 8.1 Quantifying your training results 50 8.2 Evaluation & feedback 50 8.3 Help your students apply the ideas 52 8.4 Organize your training files 53 8.5 Heed your own advice 53 9 Life is the greatest trainer of all 54 9.1 My RTH factors 54 10 Quick tips for trainers 57 10.1 Summary of suggestions for getting the most from your training sessions 57 11 Addendum 61 11.1 A time management checklist 61 11.2 Action plan 63 11.3 Three of the most useful ideas 63 11.4 How to implement the ideas 64 11.5 Making time work for you 65 11.6 Implement a new idea each week 65 12 Books referenced in How to Increase the Effectiveness of your Training 66 13 About the author 67 6 Page 7 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Purpose, planning and preparation 1 PURPOSE, PLANNING AND PREPARATION 1.1 INVEST TIME IN PLANNING Successful training involves about 20% of your time in preparation and 80% of your time actually training. Don’t short-change the planning portion or you may spend a lot of time teaching the wrong things or the right things in the wrong way. 1.2 TRAINING PROGRAM OBJECTIVES There should be at least three basic objectives when designing and delivering a training program. First, you will want the participants to enjoy the experience and feel that the session was worth their time, money and effort. You will also want them to increase their knowledge in the areas discussed in the program. And finally, you will want them to be able to apply the ideas to their job or life so that they can improve results and benefit from positive change. Your traditional evaluation form should tell you whether you have accomplished the first objective – positive feedback on content, food, facilities, handout materials, and instructor knowledge and competence. And you will be able to tell by body language, participation and participant demeanor whether they are really enjoying the experience. Their actual increase in knowledge is a little more difficult to measure without an actual test. But you could expand the evaluation form to include three things they learned from the session that they did not know before. Or ask them to estimate their increase in learning. Or include group work where you can observe and hear what they are saying as they interact with the material and other participants. Asking a few open ended questions to the whole group as to what they have learned during the day that will help them when they leave might also indicate their increase in knowledge. I prefer to record their individual problems on a flipchart (you can do this at the start of the training session when you limit attendance) and near the end of the session, ask which ideas discussed during the day would help them solve these problems. If the individual who had the problem can’t think of anything suggested during the program that could solve it, the group could offer suggestions as well. 7 Page 8 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Purpose, planning and preparation Determining whether they actually make changes to their work or life after they leave is difficult without a follow-up session a few months later. You could have a meeting with them or get feedback from their supervisors or peers or actual reports on accomplishments in sales, productivity or whatever. You could also send them away with a brief form to assess the changes during a specific time period. But ideally you should build in a follow-up session as part of the program as well as contact their supervisors to discuss any improvements that they have noticed after the training. If the participants in your program are eager for more training from you, that’s a sure sign that what you’re doing is working. 1.3 APPLYING RESEARCH TO TRAINING Richard Mayer, an educational psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara has shown that optimal learning takes place when visuals and verbal materials are presented together simultaneously. It generates more accurate and enduring recall as well as improves problem solving. Other senses such as sound and touch increase it even more. The sum of the senses is greater than their parts. Learning is improved when more senses are involved. Neural connections are formed when we learn, and here’s a list of what builds neural connections found in a series on education appearing in the November 1, 2009 issue of the Toronto Star: Learning by doing; physical involvement; using more than one sense during the learning process; being emotionally calm & open to learning; building on information already there; having a positive connection with the instructor and knowing why you’re learning. All these should be considered before designing the program. 1.4 BRIDGING THE GAP FROM RESEARCH TO APPLICATION Researching learning and how the brain processes information is fine. But it’s important that we take advantage of these findings during our training sessions. I’ve prepared a summary sheet below of 18 facts gleaned from research along with what I suggest might be an application for each fact. 8 Page 9 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Purpose, planning and preparation Brain research Application to learning Use a variety of teaching strategies – lectures, Learning is enhanced by a variety of stimuli. PowerPoint, demonstrations, exercises. Emotions can be crucial to the Build an environment that promotes storage and recall of information. positive attitudes, joy, fun and laughter. Don’t rely solely on rote learning; explain The brain tends to associate the context of the information. Use information, facts and events. real life examples and experiences. Learning is enhanced by challenge, Challenge students but don’t threaten but inhibited by threat. them or cause undue stress. Each brain is unique. And its Use a variety of teaching methods – structure is changed by learning. visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. A person’s physical and emotional well- Offer a relaxed but focused being is closely linked to the ability atmosphere in the classroom. to think and learn effectively. The brain is capable of creating new Encourage life-long learning. connections (neurons) throughout life. There is no such thing as left-brained Don’t categorize students. and right-brained people. Young people are wired differently Encourage the use of the internet and and are adept at switching rapidly and digital text books and explain how they think knowledge is infinite. and where to get information. There is a link between stress and Avoid case studies or problem solving impaired ability to solve problems. exercises at the start of the workshop. There are early birds and night Start classes later in the morning for teens. owls. Teenagers are not as mentally Their prime time is closer to 10:30 am. alert in the early morning. During sleep there is a replenishment of cells needed for a healthy immune Encourage students of all ages system and it is believed that long-term to get plenty of sleep. memories are formed at this time. Don’t prepare in the wee hours of Four nights without sufficient deep sleep the morning. Never sacrifice sleep in affects performance, judgment and memory. order to prepare for a program. 9 Page 10 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Purpose, planning and preparation Physical exercise sends more blood to the brain and with more Build in physical activity where possible. blood comes more oxygen. The brain is incapable of multitasking. Ban cell phone use and other electronic When trying to do two things at devices except for note-taking purposes. once, performance suffers. Deliver information in brief modules Learning is sacrificed when too much of 10 to 20 minutes. Allow time information is given too quickly. for new materials to sink in. There is a “nap zone” around 3 pm Avoid transferring new or complex when most people become sleepy. skills in the late afternoon. Emotionally charged events persist much Tell stories and use dramatic examples to longer in our memories and are recalled with illustrate information being transferred. greater accuracy than neutral memories. 1.5 CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE FOR LEARNING When your workshop is held in a hotel, you can’t paint the walls or install new light fixtures; but you can make the room more interesting and more conducive to learning. How about a “wall of inspiration” where you tack up cards bearing inspirational quotes or quick tips related to your topic? Or how about colorful posters on the theme of your workshop or meeting? You could have a “Parking Lot” board on one wall complete with sticky notes so participants can post questions during breaks. A table display of books or products related to your topic by might add interest as well as value to a workshop. You could jazz up the classroom tables with printed placemats bearing student notes or supplementary information. You might include colorful giveaways such as notepads, squiggly pens, booklets, mints and multicolored folders. Background music before the meeting starts – at breaks and immediately after the workshop – might add to the mood. On occasion I have had Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” playing in the background as participants arrived for my time management workshops. Keep the volume low. Even taping the flip chart sheets to the walls as they are used instead of burying them out of sight would provide an opportunity for the participants to review the material, as well as break the boredom of bare walls. 10 Page 11 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Purpose, planning and preparation Use your imagination. Anything you can do to spruce up the room will add interest will make your training sessions more memorable and give the learning process a boost. 1.6 SUCCESS IS IN THE LITTLE THINGS I don’t lug my heavy laptop along to every speaking engagement. I bought a small, inexpensive netbook that I use exclusively for presentations – free from any exposure to Internet viruses, cookies, and annoying pop-ups. I load the PowerPoint presentations on the netbook as well as on a flash memory stick in case the client insists on controlling the PowerPoint from their centralized computer or need a copy for their website or participants. Any notes are also loaded on both the netbook and a flash drive. I print a set of PowerPoint hand-outs, 6 per page, black & white, and number the slides so I can quickly jump to whatever slide I need – or to the last slide – by simply pressing the netbook key that corresponds to the slide’s number followed by “Enter.” On some slides I also make the odd reminder to myself of anything I want to mention while that slide is being displayed. There is no excuse for running overtime, and I not only bring along a travel clock with large clock face, I also mark the stopping time on a post-it note and stick it to the clock in case I forget in the heat of the moment. Other items I bring with me include a sample introduction in large readable font (even though I may have sent one to them earlier, and an item bearing my contact information that can be issued to everyone in the audience – such as a stress dot on a color chart, a card reminding them of the keys to getting organized and so on. Depending on the circumstances, I have also included a back-up LCD projector and a folded sheet of white broadcloth to serve as an emergency screen. Based on experience you will be able to develop a checklist of items to bring with you to a speaking engagement or workshop. If the session flops, you know it is not because of something overlooked such as a spare LCD bulb, write-pad or auxiliary speakers. 11 Page 12 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Purpose, planning and preparation If you organize your own workshops, create a checklist for everything you need to do, such as print notes, make up name badges, certificates, evaluation sheets, and so on. To create such a checklist, I first put myself in the shoes of the participants and visualize what they might be thinking as they walk into the seminar room. Where do I hang my coat? Where do I sit? Is there coffee? And so on. That reminds me to make up signs, arrange for the coffee and muffins, arrange name cards at tables, and so on. Then I visualize the instructor (myself ) walking into the room and facilitating the workshop. Where’s the projector? Is there a flip chart, will the session be recorded, where’s the book table etc. and jot down the necessary actions and items accordingly. After each session I edit that checklist if necessary, adding anything that had been overlooked. 1.7 DEVELOP A PERSONALIZED CHECKLIST When you are delivering a workshop or other training session, you want to focus on doing a great job with the material, not duplicating notes or searching for an extension cord. Success is frequently in the details. Below is one of the checklists I have developed for my Making Time Work for You public workshops. Yours would be different; but it might give you an idea of how many things need to be attended to before the session even starts. Lighting, beyond illumination In 10 years 2/3 of people will be living in big cities. At Philips we focus on providing lighting beyond illumination to make these cities more livable, enjoyable and safe. #makeitmeaningful What will be your impact? www.philips.com/careers 12 Page 13 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Purpose, planning and preparation 1.7.1 WORKSHOP CHECKLIST In advance: ‰‰PowerPoint slides ‰‰Printing of handouts ‰‰Make up certificates ‰‰Reminder email to participants ‰‰Summarize survey sheets on slide ‰‰Order lunch from Andy’s ‰‰Pick up milk, cream, juice, muffins, cookies, fresh fruit, soft drinks, water ‰‰Make up sign for door ‰‰PowerPoint & notes on flash drive For distribution to attendees: ‰‰Tent cards & name tags ‰‰Certificates ‰‰Seminar notes ‰‰Procrastinate Less workbook ‰‰Second book ‰‰Sample forms from Personal Organizer ‰‰Vinyl Planners ‰‰Personal Organization Self-analysis Quizzes ‰‰Getting Organized Action Plans ‰‰Stress dots on color charts ‰‰Business cards ‰‰Time Problem Survey sheets ‰‰Evaluation forms ‰‰Pens ‰‰“Extrapolation Technique” sheets ‰‰Organizing electronic files tip sheets ‰‰Getting rid of your email backlog sheets ‰‰Product folders ‰‰Promo flyers 13 Page 14 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Purpose, planning and preparation Also needed at workshop: ‰‰Sign for door ‰‰Registration List ‰‰LCD projector & extension cord ‰‰Wacom Art tablet, pen & cable ‰‰Netbook ‰‰MTWFY DVD ‰‰Personal Organizer ‰‰Planner ‰‰FF system, Read folder, To Do pad, telephone prop ‰‰Telephone ringer (Other Line) ‰‰Android, pocket recorder, cell phone, ‰‰Completed Time Problem surveys & objectives ‰‰Products for display ‰‰Telephone & Voice Mail Log ‰‰Telephone Log booklet ‰‰Telephone Directory ‰‰Continental breakfast items 1.8 SCHEDULE TRAINING DURING PEAK LEARNING TIMES When scheduling training, take into consideration that everyone’s internal clock is not set the same and the ideal learning time will vary depending on the group. Generally, teenagers are night owls and don’t get sleepy until after the rest of us. Needless to say they do not operate on all cylinders early in the day and 10 a.m. might be a reasonable starting time for them. Senior citizens are the opposite, being early risers and earlier start times would be more effective in most cases. According to researchers, our ability to think clearly and react quickly is at its lowest point between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. but I doubt there’s much training going on during those hours. Larks (morning people) are at a full head of steam by mid-morning and probably produce their most creative work before noon. But don’t expect them to be fully awake for an evening session. And never expect them to be creative at that time. “Owls,” on the other hand are usually most alert around 6 pm, and frequently do their best work in the evening. 14 Page 15 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Purpose, planning and preparation According to John Medina, in his book Brain Rules (2008), it’s not a case of being one or the other. Most people are in between a lark and an owl and you could be anywhere on the continuum. Only about 10 percent of us are larks, 20 percent are night owls, and the rest are somewhere in between. There is a core period, somewhere in the middle of the day, where all groups are operating on all cylinders. So unless you know how everyone’s biological clock is calibrated, it is probably best to schedule brainstorming sessions or case studies half way through the day. Oh, but avoid the “nap zone” somewhere around 3 p.m. According to Medina, that’s when the brain wants to take a nap, and doesn’t really care what the owner is planning to get done at that time. That could be break time. In fact, taking regular breaks throughout the day can reduce stress and increase their energy level. European experiments have shown that short 3-minute breaks every hour help rejuvenate people more than two 15-minute breaks. 1.9 WHAT DAY IS BEST? At least one study has shown that Tuesday is the most productive day of the week. Mondays are the least productive days. You might consider scheduling your workshops on Tuesdays if you view training as one of the top priorities. Start your career as a trainee and get ahead. #PIONIERGEIST Our trainees talk about their work at innogy and what #PIONIERGEIST means to them. Click and see! 15 Page 16 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Purpose, planning and preparation 1.10 TAKE A LESSON FROM BUSINESS MEETINGS One of the suggestions that I used to make to executives who experienced problems at their meetings was to write up a brief set of meeting guidelines. These guidelines would be based on things that were happening at their meetings, such as “Don’t carry on side conversations,” or “Don’t monopolize the time,” or “If in doubt, ask,” and so on. There was nothing special about having meeting guidelines. What made it more effective, is having them printed on the backs of the tent cards (large place cards) that controlled the seating arrangement. When participants read them just before or during the meeting, it was fresh in their minds, and there was a greater likelihood of them complying. A variation of this idea can be applied to training programs. Attitude has an impact on how much participants really hear, remember and apply. You could remind participants of this by printing the suggestions on the back of the tent cards – or as a separate sheet of paper or as the first page of their notes. Here are the ones that I used for business meetings. Change them so they are applicable to your workshops or develop completely new ones of your own. • Speak up. Don’t save comments for the walk out the door. • Don’t monopolize the time. Give everyone a chance to speak. • Respect other people’s ideas. When disagreeing, be positive and constructive. • If something is unclear, ask. It may be unclear to others as well. • Don’t carry on side conversations. Maintain an active interest in the meeting. • Ask yourself, how can I be better prepared for the next meeting? 16 Page 17 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Designing the training program 2 DESIGNING THE TRAINING PROGRAM 2.1 BREAK YOUR MATERIAL INTO MODULES Robert Pike is a professional trainer and fellow member of the National Speakers Association. I honed my training skills by listening to him and reading his materials. He claims that adults can listen with understanding for 90 minutes. (Professional Speaker magazine, March, 2006). But they can only listen with retention for 20 minutes, and according to Bob, we need to involve them every 8 minutes. So the maximum content chunk is theoretically 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, people start dumping the content. They don’t retain it. The reason we need to involve them every 8 minutes, is that the average high school graduate in the U.S. has watched 19,000 hours of television by graduation and has only been in class 14,000 hours. Commercial television never goes more than 8 minutes without a break. If you want to know more about Bob Pike’s training programs for trainers, visit his website at . 2.2 PROVIDE VALUABLE MATERIAL IN STUDENT NOTES. The hand-out material should be interesting enough that the students would want to read the notes as well as hear what you have to say. A few fill-in-the-blank sections are good for getting involvement, but don’t overdo it. I have attended some training sessions where I thought I was back in kindergarten class. The handouts should provide some space to take notes without having to write in the margin. Graphics are okay, but don’t make the notes look too crowded. I prefer white space to graphics. It is important that students take notes since it aids learning and recall and actually helps transfer the information into long-term memory. Copies of the PowerPoint slides are not enough. 17 Page 18 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Designing the training program 2.3 WATCH FOR THOSE URBAN LEGENDS If you quote statistics in the student notes or from the platform, make sure they are true first. I used to refer to a study that Charles J. Givens included in his book Super Self (Simon & Schuster, 1993). It relates a study of business school graduates who had been out of school for ten years. When asked how they were progressing toward their goals, it was found that an overwhelming 83 percent had set no goals. They were working hard and staying busy but had no specific future plans. Another 14 percent had goals, but their goals were mental, not written. However, this 14 percent was earning on the average three times the income of those who had no goals at all. Only 3 percent of the entire graduate group had written goals. The 3 percent was earning a whopping ten times what those with no goals were earning. Have you heard of the study? What a great example to give to your students to prove the advantage of setting goals! Problem is it’s not true. It’s what they call an urban legend. The existence of the “Yale” study was debunked in 1997 in Fast Company magazine. They could find no reference to the Yale study in any academic or popular magazine database. Graduates and university administration had never heard of such a study. �e Graduate Programme I joined MITAS because for Engineers and Geoscientists I wanted real responsibili� www.discovermitas.com Maersk.com/Mitas �e G I joined MITAS because for Engine I wanted real responsibili� Ma Month 16 I was a construction Mo supervisor ina const I was the North Sea super advising and the No Real work he helping foremen advis International al opportunities Internationa �ree wo work or placements ssolve problems Real work he helping fo International Internationaal opportunities �ree wo work or placements ssolve pr 18 Page 19 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Designing the training program Recent research by the Cancer Research UK Health Behavior Research Centre found it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. It could take as long as 254 days! Did Maxwell Maltz ever really say it took 21 days to form a habit? I read his book several times from cover to cover and couldn’t find it. But since everybody “quoted” it, I assumed Maltz must have said it in one of his speeches. But based on my experience, it never made sense. It depends on many factors, including how often you perform the replacement behavior, and how ingrained the behavior is that you’re trying to replace. Well I dug around a little. Check out the blog at . It makes a lot more sense. You might want to check out stories like those mentioned above before quoting them in your training sessions. Many such hoaxes are revealed at www.snopes.com 2.4 RECORD YOUR SOURCES Now there’s scientific evidence that you need to make a note of the source of your information. Nicole Anderson, a researcher at Baycrest’s Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit claims that you remember the information, but easily forget where you learned it. So whenever you extract information from a book, report or other source, always record the source information immediately so you will be able to include it in any notes or presentations. 2.5 AVOID INFORMATION OVERLOAD One of the biggest mistakes made by trainers is trying to cover too much information in a training session. It’s not necessary to tell them everything you know in one workshop. You’re not doing them a favor. The neural systems in the brain that control attention and store information as memory get tired quickly. They need to rest every three to five minutes. Telling stories, getting involvement, showing visuals all help; but they won’t replace shorter teaching spans, more frequent breaks and less material. We sometimes think that starting early, working through lunch and extending the workshop until 5 p.m. will ensure that they get their money’s worth; but it only succeeds in overloading their brains. It’s akin to students staying up all night to study for exams. The practice has been linked to lower grades and impaired reasoning and reduced memory. Try designing training programs so modules do not exceed 20 minutes and get involvement every eight minutes as mentioned previously. Have more frequent breaks – even if they are only brief stand-up breaks, and take time at the end of the training program to reinforce the learning and get feedback on what they intend to do differently when they return to their homes or jobs. 19 Page 20 HOW TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR TRAINING Designing the training program 2.6 DON’T IGNORE THE BASICS Don’t feel that everything you teach has to be new and revolutionary. Knowing something does not necessarily mean that they are doing it. And people love to have confirmation that what they are already doing is right. In addition, a new twist to an old idea can be valuable to the participants, Keep in mind that the job of the facilitator or trainer is not to make simple concepts appear complicated or to disguise old ideas as something new, but rather to simplify complicated concepts and ideas so that everyone can grasp their significance and put them into practice. I suggest that an ideal mix might be 20% new ideas and 80% basic ideas that have been around for a long time and which most people already know but seldom practice. Change is difficult. Overwhelm people with too many new and innovative suggestions and little change will result. And the value of training is determined by what they do after they leave the session. 2.7 TRAINING AN AGING POPULATION When we design and facilitate workshops, we must keep in mind the age of the participants. Just as supermarkets are lowering shelves and making shopping baskets wheelchair-friendly and banks are hiring gerontologists for financial planning services, so we must make our workshops elder-friendly. This might involve larger lettering on PowerPoint slides, increased font size for notes, and avoiding both green and blue colors in pie-charts and diagrams. We must also remember to deliver the information in smaller chunks, be more repetitive, and take into consideration that the older we become, the more easily we are distracted. And may I suggest that more frequent washroom breaks might also be in order. Older people are not always portrayed favorably in movies or sitcoms or among the younger crowd. In one study reported in the April, 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind, 65 percent of psychology students agreed that “older people are lonely and isolated.” And 64 percent of medical students agreed that major depression is more prevalent among the elderly, Research doesn’t back up these opinions. In fact, older adults are actually happier than younger people, at least in the research reported to date. And population-based surveys reveal that rates of depression are highest in those between 25 and 45. The happiest group overall is men aged 65 and older. 20

 

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