Staff Training: the good, the bad, and the UGLY

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:
The good
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.

The bad
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!

The UGLY
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.

One thought on “Staff Training: the good, the bad, and the UGLY”

  1. I totally agree with all you have said. I wonder though if the boring part does not stem from unclear learning objectives and cognitive levels being disconnected from those stated outcomes?

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