Learning & Development

Best Practices—Know Your Audience, Tailor Your Training Blueprint

Every trainer should know that learning style will determine a trainee’s level of engagement in the training, as well as their retention of the information afterward. While it’s always complex to train large groups of people, we’ve got a few best practices for instructors to consider.

The first necessity? Know your audience for your training sessions—it’s rare that a one-size-fits-all approach will have a thoroughly lasting effect on all learners. After that, draw up a blueprint for your training to make its foundation rock-solid.

Know Your Audience

Instructors must establish what kinds of learners make up their group of trainees. Generally speaking, people learn in one of the following three ways:
1. Visual. The brains of visual learners absorb and retain information the best via seeing or reading it. These trainees will benefit from written instructions, diagrams, handouts, slides, videos, and other types of visual information.
2. Aural. Aural learners receive information best when they hear it. They respond best to speakers, audio conferences, discussion groups, Q&A sessions, and other orally-imparted or audial information.
3. Kinesthetic, or tactile. As you have probably guessed, these learners learn by touch and feel. Trainees with this learning style will benefit from a show-and-tell where equipment is available to handle. They also respond well to demonstrations of new procedures and having the chance to practice themselves—so if it’s applicable to the information you’re teaching, try to work in hands-on training.
Inevitably, instructors will have all three of these learning types in every training session. It’s important, therefore, to integrate a combination of teaching styles into the training in order to maximize effectiveness.

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4 Steps to Drawing Up Your Training Blueprint

Once you have determined what your training needs are and how best to train those who will be attending, it is time to develop a blueprint. Here’s how to do it in four simple steps:
1. Set specific goals to meet each identified training need.

  • Have quantifiable measures in place regarding what employees are to achieve after training (e.g., increased production quotas or decreased accidents in the workplace).
  • Employ charts, graphs, and tables wherever possible or applicable to show management specific numbers and trends that the training program is meant to achieve. For example, chart the expected increased productivity or drop in accidents.
  • Set realistic targets that are achievable but are at least a little bit of a stretch—you want to challenge trainees to strive for more effective performance. For example, look at the highest production peak employees have ever achieved (even if it was just a single instance), and then set your post-training goal slightly above this point. Employees know they can achieve it because they already have—but they also know it’s a challenge.

2. List everyone who needs to be trained in each topic area.

  • These lists should help you customize the training experience for your unique audience.
  • Prepare trainees beforehand through pre-quizzes, agendas, or questions about which specific topics trainees would like addressed in the sessions.

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3. Set up a training schedule.

  • It’s always a good policy to set up a master schedule of all the training that needs to be conducted in a given month or year.
  • Within this master schedule, set specific dates for each training session. Don’t forget to include makeup dates for trainees who are unable to attend scheduled sessions.
  • Use a logical progression for multipart training; ensure the sessions aren’t so far apart that your trainees forget the previous training. But also ensure classes are not so close together that everyone suffers from information overload. Also, allow for some time when trainees interested in additional training on the first session can receive it before the next session is held.

4. Choose the appropriate method(s) for each group of trainees in each topic area.

  • Remember the learning types described above—plan to use more than one training method for each topic to ensure that you are making the session valuable for everyone.
  • Stay flexible with your training materials so that you are prepared in the event of technical difficulties (e.g., with videos or telecommunications) or other problems.
  • Keep a list of the materials and methods you use for each session.

A little bit of prior proper planning goes a long way in training. Once all of the above information is collected and organized, it will be easy to develop and conduct the training sessions—and reap the benefits of your improved workforce.

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