Preparing for a training event is where the obsessive compulsive really comes out in me. I like to have things a certain way when I train. However, I will try to set aside the worst of those habits and give some guidelines that may help smooth your training experience.
This is a portion of the back page of a lesson plan template I developed to help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms. The specific check-boxes on the sheet change with the site and available equipment but it gives you an idea of how to prepare ahead of time. It is easier to think of these things before you get the adrenaline rush just prior to participants walking in the door. It also gives you a chance to get those materials together rather than trying to come up with a creative substitute at the last minute.
Again, if you have thought about this ahead of time you will have a chance to look at several different spaces to see which one will work the best. There are several things you should look for in a space: roominess, temperature, power, available technology, and most important-proximity to restrooms.
- Hopefully you have a fairly good idea how many participants you will have and so you can guesstimate how much space each person will need.
- Factor in whether or not they will need to be up and moving for activities.
- Will they need a table to write on during the training?
- Will they need to plug in laptops or other equipment?
- What is the lighting like in the space – do the windows have blinds/can you dim the lights?
- What is the temperature like in the training space? Can you adjust it for where you are or is it part of a larger space that you have no control over?
- What about air flow? I have trained in small rooms in the corner of a basement that were very stuffy. We ended up taking more breaks than I usually like just so their (and my) claustrophobia could be dealt with and people could breathe some fresh air.
- And most important – where are the restrooms.
This may seem to be silly but it is that one question I hear the most often when training. I was training in a hotel one time that had closed the public restrooms closest to the training room for renovation. Participants had to either wait for the single-occupant, handicapped restroom or walk about 200 yards through the lobby to the other side of the hotel and look for the only open public restrooms. When 35 participants have 15 minutes for a break that can cause concern for some of them. That concern reduces the learning going on in the training because their attention is split. Try to make the space as comfortable as possible because the less participants have to focus on personal needs and comforts, they more the can focus on the training and retain what you are presenting.
Nothing is more frustrating than arriving at a training and then have to sit and wait while the leader/trainer is trying to work out a technical glitch. Murphy’s Law says that if something can go wrong it will go wrong. Technology issues will come up no matter how much you prepare, but I like to reduce their number as much as I can by checking equipment ahead of time. Here are some ideas of how to lessen Murphy’s impact on your training life.
- Is there/will you need a PA system for presenters?
- Do you/does someone who will be there know how to run it?
- Is there/will you need a projector or monitor for presentations?
- Do you/does someone who will be there know how connect devices to it?
- If you are using a projector, do you have/will you need a back-up lamp? (If it’s brand new probably not.)
- Do you have electrical plugins for your presenter’s devices?
- Do you have/do you need an extension cord(s)?
- Do you have/do you need a power strip(s)?
- Do you have extra batteries for all your devices such as presenter clickers and pointers? (They probably don’t all take the same kind!)
Other things to prepare
I usually like to make sure I have done all the copying I need to do prior to the day of a training. I put those copies and other training supplies into a folder or box so they are in one place. (Remember I said this is where my OCD comes out.) That way I have only one thing to grab and I have everything with me when I show up for the training.
When I travel to do a training, I have a couple of digital copies of my materials so that could be printed if need be. But since I have been at places where I was not allowed to plug in a USB, I also often upload presentation materials to a Dropbox account or blind link on a website. (Again remember I said this is where my OCD comes out.)
Take a ways
Life will always rear its head and you will have problems during training. However, the more you prepare back-ups and workarounds for problems, the more you can focus on the content rather than the problems. The more you focus on content, the more your participant will learn and the greater the return on investment for this training.
Let me know if you have other ways that you prepare for training!