I’m often asked, especially in the last few years, “can you do the training in less time?” I have noticed, and so have other seasoned trainers I’ve asked, that participants seem to take less time these days to complete activities and also seem to take less time to “get it”, that is, to understand the key learning points. When I use older training designs, if I don’t adjust activity times downward, I see that participants are obviously finished and ready to move on before the allotted time – activities or lecture – is over.
Some creative planning can not only reduce classroom face time, but also help make the training stick better. Beyond the “tweaking” I’ve described, how can you condense a two day training into a one day training, or a one day training into a two hour training? First, take a serious look at the training design in question. Are all the activities really necessary? Do you really need a 20 minute icebreaker? You shouldn’t, of course, reduce the training time by taking out all of the practice and other interactive activities. Remember the Curse of Knowledge mentioned in a previous newsletter. Your role is not to impart your knowledge, your role is to facilitate their learning. Here are some ways to reduce “face” time in training, and in the process increase transfer of skills to the job.
1. Before training, email a short introductory lecture a few days before the training. I know, it’s sometimes hard to get participants to do prework. Send it several times and make sure the content is short and to the point. Don’t repeat this content at the beginning of the training or you’ll defeat the purpose. Instead of or in addition to written material, email a podcast (MP3 file) with the same content for those who prefer to listen rather than read.
2. Before training, ask each participant to perform a certain skill and complete a debriefing sheet to bring to class or email ahead of time: conduct a sales call, coach an employee, perform a safety inspection, review a network configuration. In class, review and discuss the debriefing and cover only the material needed to fill the gaps between current skill level and the course objective(s).
3. Break up class time into shorter segments. Instead of a one day class, consider two 2.5 hour classes. Assign practice between sessions, and debrief the practice at the next session.
4. Blend face-to-face class time with a webinar or teleconference. Using the above example, conduct the second 2.5 hour training via webinar or conference call.
5. Enlist supervisor support for practice and debrief to be conducted on the job. Award training certificates/credit only after the post-class activities have been completed and documented.
You see, there really ARE ways to shorten training class time. So silence those howls of protest, and remember – your role is to be a facilitator of learning, not a presenter of training.
Until next time…
P.S. Download this PDF Research Report for a more in-depth look at how time periods and roles contribute to the success and “stickiness” of your training.