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Good Software training – the top 5 tips to a successful day

5 July 2012 No Comment

Good training is very important to any organisation: without proper training, staff cannot carry out their roles with confidence, leading to poor performance and poor customer service. Most managers prefer to allocate a full day (or days) to training, so that their staff are up to speed with new systems and processes as quickly as possible.

As anyone who has been on a training course for an entire day will tell you, it’s very difficult to concentrate all day! Here are the top 5 tips from Oasys for making sure that your training is effective without being mind-numbing!

1. Preparation is key

Fail to prepare, and prepare to fail: even the most attentive trainees can’t take everything in if you are stumbling through your training delivery. It’s really important to keep the trainees’ attention focussed on you and what you are saying or showing them – not on which light switch controls which light.

By arriving and setting up the training room early, you can familiarise yourself with its layout and controls. Important things to think about might be:

• Lighting – ensure lighting is adequate, as it can be difficult to concentrate when light levels are low. Conversely, don’t use every light possible when you don’t need to! Just make sure that people can read handouts etc. and also see a projector screen clearly. It wouldn’t hurt to ask if people are comfortable with the lighting before beginning, either.

• Temperature – if the room is too warm, people can become drowsy and nod off – no matter how enthralling your training delivery may be! Likewise, it is important that the room is not too cold; otherwise people will not be focussed on their training. Make sure blinds are working, in case sunlight heats up the room or begins to get in people’s eyes.

• Technology – make sure you are familiar with the hardware in the training room, and how to connect everything that you need. If you interrupt training because you forgot to plug something in, it will break concentration and make you look less than professional.

2. Timing is everything

In order to cover everything that you need to, it’s essential to plan how your time will be used during the session. A full day of training might sound like too much time, but it can easily run away from you if you don’t plan your time.

• Create a timeframe for delivery, and stick to it. Try not to deviate from the plan, as it can be counter-productive to cut time short in other areas when you realise you have taken too long talking about something.

• Start and finish on time. Don’t wait around too much for latecomers; it’s impolite and unfair on those who arrived on time.

• Make sure that you don’t stray too far from your agenda; otherwise you may not be able to cover everything you need to. Encourage discussion where appropriate, but be mindful of going off on tangents.

3. Get involved!

Remember when you were at school, sitting through lessons where the teacher droned on and on while you fought to stay awake? Then don’t make your trainees feel like that! Engaged, involved training has been proven to be more effective and remembered easily, so don’t be afraid to add somethingdifferent to your training. Some good ways of making your training more interesting could be:

• Asking trainees to share their experiences – this can help to reinforce the messages within your training, as well as encouraging the group to think about their own experiences and how the training can improve their experiences in the future. It can also be a welcome change for trainees to listen to a voice other than yours – no offence!

• Incorporate multimedia, such as videos or illustrative images that help hammer key points home. Make sure you always define what the trainees are to gain from things like this; otherwise they might interpret things in their own way.

• Play games – if appropriate, try to add an element of fun that is based around the training. This will give the trainees a welcome break from thinking, and reinforce the points you have been making.

4. Break it down

Nobody wants to spend an entire day doing anything – we always need a break at some point. Taking in new information is challenging for the brain, and extended periods of learning can make us tired.

• Incorporate a good number of break periods. Try to include breaks on a regular basis, especially in the afternoon.

• Don’t allow too much time for breaks, or too little: your training can lose its momentum if you allow too much time. Allowing your trainees to refuel with coffee or a snack during breaks is important, as is giving them time to use the bathroom!

• Make sure you leave them enough time to do these things without rushing. 10-15 minutes should be plenty of time.

5. Say it right

There are some simple devices that you can use to reinforce the messages and key points of your training. By using simple tricks, you can help trainees better understand your training and get more out of it.

• Tell them what you told them – it might sound strange, but repeating key points three times does actually help information stick. If something is worth saying, it’s worth saying three times!

• Repeat questions before answering them – this will clarify exactly what has been asked, and more importantly, help the trainees to understand the answer you are giving.

Hopefully these tips have given you some inspiration for your next training session. People often dread training sessions, seeing it as an inconvenience and something that stops them from getting on with their work. By putting yourself in their shoes and thinking about the best ways to deliver your training, you can become the person who delivered that one training session they’ll remember for all the right reasons.

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