Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of leading numerous training classes, courses, and providing on-the-job support for users undergoing large-scale job process change. In the video below or on our Harbinger YouTube channel, I review three of my favourite techniques and tips that I have learned to enable effective training programs for enterprise-level change programs. These tips will increase retention and understanding while creating a better learning experience, ultimately leading to the desired project outcomes.
My top 3 tips are as follows:
Know your Audience
Crafting a Story
While my list of tips is by no means exhaustive, I believe any trainer, regardless of experience, can include these three principles in their classroom – be it virtual or in-person – and produce a practical and rewarding experience for the learner.
Know your Audience
The first tip is to know your audience – Understanding the audience means knowing their comfort with technology, how they work (Do they work with clients? Internally? In an office or the field?), their role, etc. Your audience dictates almost every aspect of the training session, so understanding where they excel and where they need help can make your training relevant and applicable for the learners.
Knowing your learners has many facets. One of the most pertinent factors for training, especially now, is the audience’s comfort with technology. With remote training on the rise, the audience’s ability to interact with and learn from a virtual session can be a significant consideration when deciding if learning can be done virtually and how it can be executed in order to be successful. Options to consider for virtual learning can be duration, which may need to be extended if users are less comfortable with technology; or increased interactivity and screen sharing if users feel secure or have experience with technology, among other options.
While there will be outliers among your audience, it is critical to cater to the broader group’s competencies and abilities when crafting training. To understand your audience, it is essential to ask pertinent and direct questions to get an accurate depiction. With eLearning or any other form of learning, there is great importance in understanding the audience. It can be seen in this article by Shift eLearning, which outlines essential questions that can help craft the course for the end-users.
Repetition is another useful technique that should be implemented in training programs to help with retention and understanding. As a trainer, repetition can be applied in creative ways so that learners do not get served identical content repeatedly or as apparently. With the increase in digital learning, learners will require forced repetition to understand concepts previously taught in person.
Delivering repetitive training needs to be done creatively to provide the most considerable benefits and avoid fatigue, especially with remote learning. Scenario or case-based learning is a technique that can be leveraged to get learners practicing what they have learned. While it may be a little more difficult remotely, users can be called upon to share screens or go into breakout rooms to be engaged and get their repetition in.
In our training classes, we like to use a technique called spaced repetition, where the same topic is covered at different intervals of the course. For example, a topic introduced early in the course will reappear in a different segment as a review and in a final review or scenario-based example. This method has been proven to increase retention due to the Spacing Effect, which states that learning is more effective when content is spaced out.
Crafting a Story
Engaging an audience, especially when leading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software or project-based training, requires a well-crafted story for the learners to understand what they are learning and how it relates to their job. Crafting a story is merely relating the learning topic to the business processes, and terms learners are used to and have experience with. The “story” helps learners connect the dots between the old and new, providing clarity to what they are learning.
For example, a sales team learning how to use their CRM software will get better outcomes if the training mimics the real-life scenarios those users will face in a real-life setting. The sales team gets context from the story and can apply what they learned since they have gone through the exact process in a training scenario. This helps explain why casework and practice scenarios are effective in training since they give the learner practice in a risk-free training environment before moving to real life.
Building a story requires in-depth knowledge of the learner’s roles and responsibilities since a poorly crafted story can lead to undesirable outcomes and a misunderstanding of the concept. You can also go the opposite route and allow the learners to come up with their own stories and role-plays to further employee engagement retention. To help with crafting a pertinent and compelling story, use this guide.
We can also look at a few different techniques that can help with a successful training session:
Set the Stage – Setting the stage means preparing your users for what they are about to learn. This can be as simple as informing the learners about what is to come or doing a little more and providing a context to the training before beginning. This is important as it gives users the “why” before the “how” and can help eliminate confusion
Over Prepare – Over preparing is essential to running a smooth and engaging training session. This can take the place of arriving early and setting up or having a greater understanding of possible questions the audience might have. Not building this level of confidence from your audience can lead to an erosion of confidence, and the training will be less impactful.
Get Feedback – Nobody can judge the success of your class better than your learners, so getting their feedback can significantly improve the quality and success of your course. This can be done via survey or informal conversations and can have a tremendous impact on the future iterations of the course or the rest of the sessions.
Implementing some of the training tips into your upcoming training sessions or classes can help you develop a more robust and successful training course. No matter what type of training you are leading, you can leverage some of the above to provide a better experience for your learners. Since learning the tips above by conducting virtual and in-person training sessions, I’ve noticed a significant increase in the quality of my training, and the retention of my learners.
Sr. Financial Analyst / Consultant