The All-Important Training Session Plan
“Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”
Benjamin Franklin was the first one to say those immortal words, although others have followed suit, including Winston Churchill. Those words have become a byword for anyone who teaches time management. They should likewise become a byword for every trainer.
As you walk into every training session, you must realize that you are the lone individual, walking into a den of lions. As long as you keep those lions engaged in learning, they’ll forget that they’re hungry. But the moment you give them time to realize their hunger, they’re going to be all over you.
Okay, so maybe your learners won’t actually cook you for dinner, but there are some groups that will make you feel like they are about to; especially if you don’t keep them engaged with the learning material you are presenting.
Nobody is expecting you to be the juggler who is trying to keep all the plates in the air and not let any of them come crashing to the ground. What they are expecting, is for you to make your training sessions interesting, keep your learners engaged, and keep the session active. To do that, you’ll need a plan; a plan that details out everything you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it, how long you’re going to spend on doing it, and what results you expect to get from it.
You see, that sort of plan will help keep your session active and lively. The worst thing that any trainer can do is have their learners sitting there, doing nothing, while they are trying to figure out what they are going to do next.
According to the Fortress Learning, Learning Guide on Delivering Training, for a training session plan to be effective, three different ideas must be woven together:
- The sequence of information presented and activities accomplished is logical
- The sequence of activities is engaging, catching and holding the learners’ attention
- The information and activities are manageable
If you think about that, it makes a lot of sense. If the information isn’t presented in a logical order, the learners won’t capture it. Could you see a maths teacher giving their students a worksheet to do, before explaining how to do the concept? Of course not! It wouldn’t work. Even though it must be logical, it must catch the learner’s attention and motivate them to become involved. That’s really what engaging the learner means. Finally, the plan must be something that the trainer can manage to do. Developing a plan that you can’t accomplish only makes you look foolish.
While some trainers look at developing a plan as a waste of their time and talents, in reality, it is a tool, designed to make your job easier. It’s always easier to think of how best to do things when you don’t have a room full of learners staring you in the face. Taking the time to develop a plan helps you run your training session the way you want to so that it accomplishes the goals that you set forth.
One final word about session plans. Always have a little more on the plan than what you expect to accomplish. There are times when everything goes so smoothly that you get done early. Many trainers just allow their learners to use the remaining time as they want to. That’s a mistake. Allowing the learners to take control of their time and do what they want establishes an expectation that they will be able to run things in the future. It’s always better to have one extra activity to reinforce the lesson, which won’t be missed if it isn’t used.