Learning & Development

Resolve to Freshen Up Your Training in the New Year

If you get feedback that tells you that your training is boring, you’ve got a problem. Let’s face it: It’s easy to fall into the same monotonous pattern of giving the same training over and over. But if your training is boring it’s not going to be effective. Here are some easy tweaks to freshen your training and materials—and it won’t cost you a thing!
Be Objective
Do a quick audit of your training materials with an objective eye. Try to view them as though you have never seen them before, or ask a colleague for a brutally honest assessment. Look at these two things specifically:

  1. Content and relevance: Does the content of your handouts and other training materials, including visual aids, match your oral presentation? Is the information accurate and up to date? Or perhaps the information is technically correct but really doesn’t address the actual safety issues in your own workplace. Revise or replace anything that misses the mark.
  2. Overall appearance: Visual appeal is big when it comes to training. Your handouts, for example—do they look like copies of copies of copies, with washed-out, distorted print? Maybe it’s time to redo them to make them more readable. While you’re at it, maybe you can add a little color or some graphics to your handouts, as well as your overhead slides, to make them more eye-catching and to heighten interest.

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Be Ready and Willing to Change
Change for the sake of change can be a good thing when it comes to training. Try experimenting and even having a little fun with presentations that have gone stale, as long as you don’t leave out important information. Here are a few ideas to mix it up:

  • Rearrange the outline of your presentation so that the main points are made in a different order than the one you typically use.
  • Give a brief quiz at the BEGINNING of the session—this helps reveal what the audience already knows and doesn’t know about the topic, so you can tailor your presentation accordingly.
  • Similarly, ask for questions from the audience BEFORE the session starts. For example, ask them to tell you the three things they really want to know about the topic, and use this information as the main focus of the presentation.

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Be Creative to Keep Trainees’ Attention
Try these steps when planning training sessions to improve the odds that your trainees are engaged and learning the whole time.
Plan training sessions in reasonably small bits and bites. Say you’re going to train on a particular hazard, procedures necessary to prevent injuries, and required PPE. Rather than delivering information about all three points in one continuous stream, break it up into three chunks, interspersed with interaction between trainer and trainees and among trainees.
Make sure self-paced and e-learning materials are composed of short modules, each with interactive opportunities and chances to review the information covered.
Be interactive. For instance, talk for a bit and then discuss what you’ve just covered, encouraging lots of trainee participation. Or, have a question and answer period between training points. Divide large training groups into small groups to discuss issues or complete training exercises. Use quizzes and problem-solving exercises to challenge trainees and make them think about what they’re learning. Give trainees a chance to practice what they’ve learned for a few minutes before proceeding to the next point.
Realize that the younger your trainees are, the more you need to take attention span into account. Young workers, who have grown up in the electronic age, may have shorter attention spans than older workers.
Use a combination of training techniques, also known as blended learning. For instance, give a brief 5-minute introduction, show a short training video, have a discussion about key points, then give a quiz, and provide a handout and have a short review.
Allow rest breaks during long training sessions so that trainees have a chance to get up and move around, have some coffee, and refresh themselves for the next round.