7 Tips for In-House Trainers

Maybe it’s because I’ve been designing and leading learning workshops for a while now that people ask me to help their in-house trainers. Maybe it’s because the L&D budget has been cut and suddenly an in-house ‘faculty’ is needed. Or a bit of both. Whatever the reason, I think that sharing the expertise already on your payroll is a Thoroughly Good Thing, and want to help.

Here are my top tips if you’ve been asked to step up and train your colleagues.

1. Set clear objectives

What do people need to be able to do as a result of your training session? Define specific actions they’ll be able to take as a result, and why they’re important. Hint: avoid ‘know xyz’ and ‘understand blah blah blah’ – they don’t quite cut it. When people know / understand, how will their colleagues and clients be able to tell? What will they be doing differently? Answer those questions and you’ll have much clearer objectives to guide your workshop design. Share your objectives with participants.

2. Be realistic about time

What’s feasible – really – in the time you have available? If you’ve only got a 45-minute Lunch & Learn, you might not be able to get everyone up to your very high standard of presentation software mastery. But you can share some of your hard-earned knowledge of ‘what to do – and what not to do when presenting data’. Better to deliver a smaller slice well than an indigestible encyclopaedia in a hurry.

3. Know your participants

Are they anxious about the topic? Is it something that keeps cropping up in requests for training? Or are they blissfully unaware that this skills gap has got your CEO foaming at the mouth in frustration? What are they already good at? What’s their preferred way of learning? Solitary, on their phone? In a group, face to face? Are they happy to ask questions in front of others – or do they hang back? You’ll need a pen portrait to ensure your training session engages participants.

4. Lead but don’t lecture

If you think you can simply turn up and ‘just give a talk’ over some slides you’ve hurriedly pulled together, think again. Your participants’ body language will tell you all you need to know about how that works for them. Yes, you’re probably an expert, but if learning is the result you seek, don’t lecture the whole time. Instead, aim to lead your participants in a variety of ways to make sense of your content and figure out how they’ll use it.

5. Mix the methods

A handy guide for facilitating learning is to keep the ball in the participants’ court about 70% of the time. Gosh, I hear you say. Indeed – and if you’re tight on time that’s a tough challenge. 60% might be a little more realistic. What that means in practice is a bit of input then an activity, followed by a debrief before moving to the next point. Don’t just ask your participants to ‘compare notes with a neighbour’; facilitate interactivity and give them simple, relevant tasks with a clear brief such as a quiz, a puzzle, or a diagram to correctly label.

6. Mix the people

If the logistics of your venue and the number of participants allow, keep mixing up your group. Otherwise, people tend to stay bunched with their work mates, missing opportunities to meet and learn with a wider pool of colleagues. You can group and regroup participants by month of birthday or something random, such as when they last had a box set binge. It’s also worth mixing how people work: sitting, standing, working in pairs, trios or groups or reflecting alone.

7. Have a plan

Now you have clear objectives and pen portrait of your participants, ideas on activities and interaction, you can plan what you’ll be doing when. This will help you stay on track and check if something needs to be pruned if you’re overrunning.

Let me know if you have a question about in-house training.

You may also find this post useful: 10 tips for getting your in-house training session off to a good start

Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work


Image credit: Presentation-@samuraitop/DepositPhotos

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