I’ve spoken to and witnessed many training styles over the years. Being a participant in training and seminar events has opened my eyes to different styles and models that a trainer can use to deliver a message to the people in the room. As a self confessed impatient person, I need constant stimulation from the people around me to keep me focused and engaged in the room.
Of course this is easier when I am receiving information about a subject that I am interested in but this is not always possible. As a business owner and a general professional, it is not always possible to only attend the events that excite me. I, my PAs and hazarding a guess, you, have to attend events on a regular basis that are necessary to our role but not always exciting. These can be meetings, CPDs, conferences, learning and development sessions to name just a few.
Due to my experience and knowledge of myself, I have tried to develop a training style that takes into account all of the above. Because, although disability equality/awareness fills me with excitement and joy, I do have to submit to the fact that it will not do this for everyone.
So what do I do to ensure that people in my training sessions have a good time and can leave the room with some useful information and ideas to implement? Below are my 5 rules for a successful training session:
1. Minimal PowerPoint.
As I mention before, I am impatient and have a low attention span so, for a start I try to avoid too much PowerPoint presentation. It is useful however to use some PowerPoint. Feedback from participants has led me to understand that it can be helpful to have slides to embed information. For example, using slides to embed facts can help. (It also helps me to remember where I am without constantly having to look at my agenda).
2. Discussion and debate.
My sessions concentrate heavily on “soft skills”. By this I mean the skills utilised to engage, value and support people. Due to this, I encourage all participants to challenge themselves and each other. I don’t mean being argumentative. I would not encourage anyone to negatively confront or do anything to make another person feel uncomfortable. By creating an environment where people can be open and honest with each other, they can discuss thoughts and perceptions in a safe, supportive environment.
3. Activity and exercise.
I think this is my favourite part. Mainly because its fun. The games I create are designed to be informative. Going back to my low attention span, I believe that we learn when we are enjoying ourselves and it doesn’t seem as though we are straining ourselves. It is also another good opportunity to learn from each other so participants have a break from listening to me but they can lean on each other to find the answers.
4. Group work.
This almost echoes the above. Its an opportunity for participants to learn from each other but on top of this, if I ask a question that is touching on a subject that hasn’t been covered before, it gives people in the room the opportunity to think about the answers in a non confronting setting. Sometimes it can seem confronting to be asked a question in a wider group. It is easier to explore the answers with a small group of people where the discussion can happen away from the facilitator who is perceived to know all the answers. At the end of any group work session, if appropriate, feedback will be shared with the group as a whole for everybody to gain the knowledge.
5. Individual reflection.
It is all very well for learning to happen in the training room. But as we all know, when we go back to the office, priorities return to what is facing us at that moment meaning any learning is buried in everyday work. Having five minutes at the end of a training session to individually reflect on one’s own progress and set personal goals to implement is crucial. These goals will then be gathered up by me and sent to participants a few days after the session as a reminder and to keep the learning fresh.
Obviously every training session must be adapted to the group learning outcomes and styles. To discuss your training needs and goals in the area of disability equality, give us a call on 01256 578016