Have you been challenged with developing a training program for your organization? If so, the following four techniques can help ensure quality training that accelerates and enhances the learning experience of its audience, as well as improving the retention and effectiveness of the training.
Did you know that the average person is distracted from their daily work tasks an average of 2.1 hours a day to spend time on non-productive activities? Did you also know that employees spend an average of only 11 minutes on a task before becoming distracted? With these odds, how can one possibly offer a training program that not only catches the interest of its students, but also holds their focus and attention? If this is not challenging enough, try to maintain proper focus throughout an 8 hour training day. Impossible? Not really. The solution is easy… build an effective training program.
Roll up your sleeves and dig in!
Learning comes from doing the work itself, and not passively watching. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike by watching a Power Point Presentation, I learned by jumping on and giving it a try. After a few scraped knees and a band-aid here and there I was eventually riding with the wind in my hair. The point here is that to learn, you have to “Do”. People learn best by activity based, hands-on learning. Allow students as much hands-on time with the materials as possible. The learning process includes making mistakes and actually working through different scenarios on their own. It’s one thing to tell someone something, but it’s more valuable for them to learn it on their own.
A successful training program focuses on providing as much hands-on quality time as is possible.
Imagery plays a very important role in learning. The brain absorbs and processes images more easily than it can process words. You can easily remember your most favorite birthday gift or holiday experience by visualizing and picturing it. You didn’t have to memorize these experiences to remember them. The imagery of the event was enough to reinforce the experience. Now think about an overhead Presentation spackled solely with bulleted words, page after page. The student is too busy trying to read and keep up. They are only paying attention to the words you are saying and not the message. The entire meaning is lost with little, if no learning being accomplished.
Successful training materials take advantage of the use of imagery to help increase long-term retention of information. Add pictures, colors, graphs and animation as often as possible. Words, of course, will still be needed, but try to keep them concise and to the point.
So how many times have you been told to “Think Positively”? Believe it or not, your feelings actually have a big impact on the quality of your learning. Positive, relaxed feelings and being fully engaged in the training will make learning easier and more successful. Conversely, negative feelings, feelings of stress and conflict will impede the learning process. It is, therefore, very important to provide a training environment that fosters positive feelings. Easy to say, right?
Creating a positive learning environment is actually not that difficult. It can be achieved in a variety of ways. First, start by getting people involved. Ask your audience questions and look for feedback. Getting them to share their ideas keeps them involved and engaged, and helps create a relaxed, positive environment.
Second, pay close attention to the physical environment. Try to steer clear of the “classic” training environment that immediately screams BORING and dull. Whether the environment is a physical classroom, remote or even web-based training, make the environment as fresh, dynamic and current as you can. Keeping your students engaged and interested will provide benefits that go a long way.
Finally, set clear goals for the training that are both motivational and achievable. Let them know exactly what they are going to learn and what they will be able to do with their newly gained knowledge by the end of the topic. This will allow them to see the value in what they are learning, and again increases their interest and commitment to the training.
Variety is the Spice of life!
Not all people learn in the same way – one size does NOT fit all. A good training program, therefore, cannot rely on just one set of learning tools and techniques to be successful. A good training program offers a rich variety of training options that appeal to the different types of learning styles and environments. Whether its hands-on training, remote training, web-based eLearning, exercise driven or instructional, a well balanced training program will offer a variety of these training options for its students. It’s the combination of these offerings that will provide the best learning opportunities for students. Let them mix and match to find the best learning approach for them.
One last suggestion…just as you are making the finishing touches to your program and think you can sit back and take pride in your accomplishment, don’t sit back too long. Nothing stays the same. You should never be satisfied with your materials. There are always ways they can be “freshened up”. Continue to add new features and go back and update the ones you have. Don’t let all of the work and effort you have put into your training program quickly become “dated”. It should be a “work in progress” that is forever growing with technology.