I have been running Instructor-Led Training Courses for almost 20 years, some of which were in-house, some were public scheduled and the remainder were on client sites. We, as training consultants don’t always have control over all aspects of a learning and development event, but our delegates will leave with an overall impression.
We need to look at the areas of an event that will potentially make an impression on the delegates that attend that event. Some of these areas will be obvious and some not so obvious.
Trainer or Training Consultant
Visual and Practical Aids
Food and Drink
The trainer is the representative of the organisation responsible for facilitating the training event, and he or she will become the focal point for the training delegates throughout the duration of the event. In my opinion the trainer should be suitably dressed for the occasion. For example, if the training course is a technology or business overview with powerpoint presentations and Q&A sessions then in most cased the trainer should be reasonably formally dressed. On the other hand, if the learning experience dictates a lab or workshop environment with hands-on exercises and demonstrations then a less formal dress maybe appropriate. The training consultant must have in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and must be able to use a variety of techniques for getting the information across. If the training course is built on visual presentations such as Powerpoint then the instructor must break the course up with Q&A, delegate exercises, anecdotes and real-life experiences.
If courseware is provided for the training event then it must be professionally packaged and most importantly, contain accurate information. Paper or electronic courseware must be free of both spelling and grammatical mistakes. If delegates receive a booklet or folder then always offer an electronic version of the material, particularly if the delegates may be expected to use the material for reference after the course has ended.
The course title is probably what attracted the course booking in the first place, so the training course content should reflect the expectations of the delegates. It must have been clearly stated at the booking stage the depth to which the training event explores the subject matter. For example, what is the difference between Data Networking Overview and The Fundamentals of Data Networking? You would almost certainly have different expectations when attending those two training courses. Make sure the content matches the expectations indicated by the course title.
Visual and practical aids can have a huge impact when presenting material during a training event. It is important to make sure the associated equipment is up to the job and appropriate for the presentation material. When using an LED projector, is there a dedicated viewing screen, or do you have to find a suitable area of flat wall on to which to project the images? If delegates have to use equipment during the training course, are there enough power outlets and how can you make the running of cables comply with health and safety? If you have a dedicated training room with IT equipment built-in then those problems should not arise, but often public scheduled events utilise managed training rooms or even hotel rooms. If you are a contract trainer and have never used the venue before then do a bit of homework before arriving at the site in an attempt to ensure there are no nasty surprises.
The training accommodation is another important factor when attempting to give a good lasting impression of a training event. The accommodation should be big enough to ensure delegates do not feel cramped and seating should be comfortable, particularly when delegates may be sitting down for maybe 5-7 hours a day. Temperature is very important, too hot and students may be falling asleep, too cold and they will feel uncomfortable. Is the layout of the room good? All delegates should have a good viewing position and not have to keep their heads turned to follow what is going on. Lighting should be adequate, and natural light is certainly the best, if possible. Blinds on windows may be needed at certain times of the days if the sun is likely to shine through and affect any presentation.
If food is supplied, then please be aware that delegates may have different dietary requirements, either to do with religion or in some cases medical reasons. If the training course is running over several days then vary the food. Always make sure there are drinks available in the room in the form of water, bottled preferably. Refreshment breaks should be taken at least twice a day, with the addition of a lunch break. A warm drink and a biscuit goes a long way to reviving a tired audience!
Although some of the points highlighted above may seem very obvious, failure to adhere to some of those points can and probably will have an impact on whether or not a delegate has a good lasting memory of a training course, and ultimately whether or not he or she is likely to book another event in the future.