Jason Silberman offers the community some pointers to make sure that session sticks in the memory.
Training officers have to always think of how best to overcome the challenge of having to train and retrain their workers, and yet still have to answer repeat questions later. A key question is how to make the things learned during the training stick in the workers' memories? Or, looking at it from an ROI perspective, how can the value of any training course be maximised?
Here are five things to consider when planning your training strategy, in order to make training memorable...
Choosing the right location
In order to produce a memorable training session, and to raise the chances that the material will be better absorbed by the trainees, the training venue must always be in (and be surrounded by) a conducive environment to learning. These can differ based on the type of lesson you're planning – whether in an outdoor environment for a physical team-building activity, or indoors, it’s important that a few key factors be considered. First, that external noise is at a minimum – it just increases distractions and makes it hard for some people to maintain focus. Second, the size of the space should have the trainees close together so that they can feed off each other and allow for greater group interaction. From a practical standpoint, make sure to choose a venue where there are the necessary technological tools needed for the best training experience – a projector, top-level computers, etc. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, try to choose a space that will be memorable – bland meeting rooms sometimes can allow training sessions to blur into insignificance. Choose a place that will really be fun to be in, to look at, and to learn in.
Getting the best and ideal trainer
If the trainer is dull and boring, it is more likely that trainees will become disinterested with the lessons being taught, even if the subject is actually pretty interesting. Conversely, a good trainer can be truly inspiring, even when teaching something pretty boring. Companies should get the right person with the best qualifications to make every training session memorable. It’s important that a trainer possess the following characteristics to add to the energy level of the training:
"It’s important that the training be interactive, stimulating and engaging. Provide participant involvement in the training in a way that pulls people into the experience. Get their feedback and their ideas."
Make every training session interesting
If the trainer or the training presentation is dull and has lots of glitches, chances are that all those attending the training session will become sleepy and/or bored. It’s important that the content itself, as well as the training methods are engaging, interactive and interesting. Various techniques that have proved to be effective in the long term include using humour, telling a story through examples and narrative, and using technology (see below). It’s also important that the training be interactive, stimulating and engaging. Provide participant involvement in the training in a way that pulls people into the experience. Get their feedback and their ideas. Use gamification techniques to increase engagement and generate team building. Finally, get them out of their chairs – creating a physical activity that refreshes their attention span both mentally and physically.
Related to shaping the training session to be as interesting and as relevant as possible, is the ability and need to use technological tools to make training more memorable. Use audio-visual strategies, like bringing in music for different segments of the training, using different colors and pictures to stimulate the brain (practical tips can be using different colored highlighters or using brightly colored graphics). You can also use recording technology, video screens and more.
In addition, with the introduction of new technology it is possible to schedule remote, online follow-up sessions. Encourage the company and training participants to adopt elearning and mobile learning options. Suggest to participants to take up further learning modules through the Internet or simply involve online questionnaires to establish learning as well as self-assessment tests to identify strengths and weaknesses. Incorporate software programs to complement and personalise training to fit each employee’s exact needs, and to be able to stay with them as they are actually doing their jobs, long after the training orientation is completed.
Make every training session short and directly practical to their jobs
If the training takes several hours and eats up much of the trainee’s time, it is possible they will zone out or lose focus during a training session. Make every training session short and concise enough for the employees, with a good trainer being a good observer in recognising when people are reading for a break. Furthermore, it’s important that in the short time for each session, what is being taught are concise, practical skills that are directly addressing the needed skills for the employees. In other words, make sure they're getting something they actually need. Try to plan short sessions, tailored exactly to the bits they need in their job. This should increase the chances for retaining the knowledge in their memory, and reduce the need for repeat training in the future.
Jason Silberman is marketing director at WalkMe, the world’s first interactive online guidance system. He is also a training specialist, and is the lead author and editor of Training Station, a blog devoted to news and ideas on training, learning and organizational development. Follow him at @tstationblog.