Delivering Development (v): Group Training
Group training is generally perceived as the only form of training, because of our early classroom experiences. Group training has a lot in common with presentation. If you marry the principles of employee learning to the skills of presentation, you will need to take control of the session through effective planning and to encourage activity, challenge and participation in the group that you are training.
Consider the following steps when preparing to train a group:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the participants’ expectations re the workshop?
- Has any pre-course work been carried out?
- What further information do you need to obtain at the beginning of the programme?
- What can you infer from the participants' mood, willingness to volunteer, readiness, etc?
Set training objectives and prepare your audience
This stage involves you taking action that will prepare your audience. You may wish to negotiate or set the goals for the session and establish your own responsibilities as a leader or trainer. Above all, be explicit about the values of the session, the methods to be used and the ground rules.
Assess resources and skills
This third stage involves deciding the tools that you will use. Above all, you should be comfortable with the methods that you choose. Consider your own special interests and skills, as your enthusiasm will help get the message across. Make a list of the resources you need and the resources available to see if there are any gaps.
State the objectives for each session
Ideally, the objectives should be specific and measurable: 'by the end of this workshop you should be able to...'. Objectives should be set through discussion and negotiation with the staff. Remember that you should present the objectives to the participants at the start of each session. If participants have clear goals, this will help them to learn more readily.
Predict the time schedule for each element
This should be specific: introduction, 10 minutes; forming groups and giving instructions, five minutes; working on the task, 40 minutes; etc. On a larger scale, review the schedule to see if sufficient time is available for what is planned for each element. Try to remember to provide 'fillers'. Is more time available than the work will consume? Avoid planning so much that the participants feel hurried.
If you decide to use other tutors, remember to make sure that the responsibilities are clearly defined and that everyone knows what they are supposed to deliver. No matter how good a trainer is, they cannot read minds. If you don’t specify what you want, you won't get what you want and will have nobody to blame but yourself.
Make sure that your location is suitable and that you have everything you need for the training session, eg handouts, pencils, flip-chart paper, name tags, workbooks, masking tape, blu-tac, markers, reference materials, tape recorder and tapes, video recorder and tapes, etc. Remember housekeeping details: breaks, meals, special needs, and socialisation. The socialising effect of training can be very useful - don’t discount it.
Provide for evaluation
Consider how you will integrate the evaluation process into the programme and into your overall development strategy.
Delivering the training
After designing the session and preparing the group and the material, the final issue is actually to deliver the training. This checklist is designed to offer you some ways that may help you keep the attention of a group in a 'pure' training situation:
- focus the group’s attention on yourself from the very beginning;
- tell the group what they will be able to do by the end of the session;
- use each group member’s name. Have people introduce themselves or use name cards;
- praise group members when they do something right;
- keep the pace lively by using problem-solving exercises;
- reward the group with breaks after lectures or difficult problems;
- don’t lecture for more than ten minutes at a time;
- move around the room;
- vary pitch and tone in delivery;
- use humour - share horror stories and funny incidents;
- repeat important points. Write them on flipcharts or black/white board;
- don’t use jargon;
- use analogies and metaphors to get complex ideas across;
- use visuals; and,
- break the group up into smaller groups and let them work on problems or share information.