I have conducted and attended quite a few trainings and PDs over the last few years as an instructional coach and independent consultant. Lately, I have really been thinking about how training IS done and how it SHOULD BE done. I came up with these quick observations:
Knowledgeable, prepared speaker
One thing I can say about most presenters I come across is that they know their stuff. Hence why they were chosen to present on a given topic! Most trainings I attend are characterized by very detailed descriptions of how to get things done, revealing the depth of the speaker’s experience.
Getting your hands dirty
Another positive aspect of a training is when you get to do hands-on work. I always appreciate having the opportunity to actually DO something in a training as opposed to simply listening to the speaker drone on about a topic without getting the chance to see it in action.
One size fits all
Technology and the internet are a natural fit for me, what with my homepage, blog, Twitter, Tumblr, and a million other web projects I administer or consult for. I definitely do not need a lesson called “Logging In”, which is where we began at a training I recently attended. I am a believer in differentiated instruction–but not just for kids–adults need differentiation, too! I get that some people need for you to break things all the way down, but I want to see an agenda that addresses the varying levels of expertise in the room. It can be as easy as a disclaimer: “I know that some of you guys are going to breeze through this stuff, so maybe you can check on your neighbor when you finish, or start working ahead…” Or something. I get that it’s difficult to plan a training that meets the needs of learners at different levels, but it’s possible!
Bored to tears!!!
Although a presenter can be knowledgeable, helpful, and hands-on, several hours of training can make for a verrrrry looooong day. Often, there is very little to break the monotony, other than a few dry anecdotes and a much-anticipated lunch break. I often find myself waiting for something exciting to happen–like an explosion. OK, maybe an explosion is extreme, and I am not trying to say that I constantly need to be entertained, but sometimes people need to be surprised or even startled to stay engaged. Things need to switch up every once in a while. Even hands-on stuff can be brutal if you’re just doing a series of super-boring tasks.
I know I speak for teachers and students when I say: “Engage us! We don’t want our time wasted!” As someone who has done many presentations, some good, some bad, and some UGLY, I know how difficult it is to plan a really great presentation. But the enthusiasm you get from your audience is soooo worth the time and effort it takes to plan with them in mind.