We’ve probably all heard about speakers who put on their lapel microphone and then forget to turn them off while going to the toilet (this actually happened to me).
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One trainer we know was ready to provide a ninety minute breakout session at a conference. She had checked the room out ahead of time, tested her laptop and slides to make sure they worked, and checked that the lighting was okay. She even spoke with the audio-visual technician and tested out the microphone.
Everything seemed fine, until the session started and she spoke! Someone from the next room (which had been empty when she did her testing) stuck their head in the door and explained that she could be heard in all the rooms on that side of the hall. She had to take off the microphone and project her voice in order to be heard by 200 people.
Here is another example: a car with four participants starts out on a two hour journey to attend training, and a tire blows out. By the time the tow truck arrives and the tire is fixed, that car load of trainees is now two hours late for your session, which you started on time.
Is your program flexible enough to allow you to have groups working simultaneously yet be in different places in the program? Can you help those four trainees get caught up at lunch time? How will you handle these kinds of unforeseen circumstances?
When Activities Go Wrong
Even if we create excellent courses and training plans, as trainers, we also recognise that a game or activity that worked with one group may not work with another. In order to be comfortable that you have selected the best activities, consider the following:
- Avoid activities that would annoy you if you were a participant.
- Adjust the length and type of activity to suit the length of the training session. A one-day workshop may or may not benefit from a 45 minute icebreaker at the beginning; a five or ten minute icebreaker is probably just fine. However, if your group is taking part in a three to five day workshop and the outcomes improve when participants get to know one another really well, then an extensive game of up to an hour is appropriate.
- Know your audience. Senior staff does not usually want to look silly or foolish in front of their subordinates. Junior staff may not be comfortable looking silly in front of their boss.
- If participants arrive in business clothes, they may not be comfortable with really active games. If your session will be highly active or calls for casual clothes, make sure that participants know that ahead of time.
- Participants who work together may know each other very well will find some exercises redundant. Be selective about the activities that you choose.
- Learning that dealing with personal development subjects such as communication or team building will benefit from games more so than training that is related to computer software, for example. The software group, however, might really need one or even several short energizers throughout the day to maintain motivation levels as well as retention.
If an activity flops: If an activity does not go over well with your group, don’t push it through to the end just because it’s a part of your lesson plan. Sometimes the dynamics of a group do not support an activity.
Here are some things that you can do if an activity goes pear-shaped:
- Stop the activity and refocus the group. You can let them know that something went wrong, and that you are going to try again or you can abandon it altogether and move on.
- Watch the energy levels. It is not unusual to expect that if an activity fizzles, the energy in the group will decrease sharply. People may feel that they have done something wrong. An energiser will get everyone reinvested in what is going on and restore those energy levels.
- Organise an on-the-spot debriefing session and have the trainees identify what went wrong, and how to remedy the problem or move beyond it. Do not focus on why things went wrong, since that can lead to blaming or negativity that shouldn’t be introduced to the session. Focus the conversation on what and how.
- If the activity was applicable to the learning objectives and would work with some modifications, then make some changes and use it again. If it really isn’t applicable, then let it go and develop something that will enhance the training session the next time that it is offered.
All public Train The Trainer courses include am/pm tea, lunch, printed courseware and a certificate of completion. Customised courses are available upon request so please contact pdtraining on 1300 121 400 to learn more.