3 Ways to Know if Training is Effective
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3 Ways to Know if Training is Effective

by Leigh-Ann Zaharevich

Have you ever been in a training, on either side of the podium, and realized that the participants are not getting what the trainer is talking about? It can be uncomfortable for both sides, and make for an ineffective presentation.

If you are the one in the front of the room, it is your job as the trainer or presenter to make sure everyone is following you. An effective means of doing this is by employing 'embedded testing'. This means you are checking in with participants often, with questions embedded in your presentation.

Caution! There is a common trap with the embedded test that you need to avoid. The trap is asking a question and allowing the few to speak for the many. Here's what I mean. Let's say you're training people how to change a tire. You ask a question such as, "What is the importance of carrying a jack?" Some responds, "so you change the tire anywhere you are". "That's right," you say, and move on to the next topic. But how do you know that everyone knows the importance of carrying a jack? Are you letting a few vocal people speak for the whole group? There will always be a few people who want to answer every question, a few who will never give a response, and most people fall somewhere in between.

The trainer's job is to check in with all or most people in the room. Here are a few techniques for accomplishing this:

  • Polling. Addressing people directly, go around the room and ask them what questions they have or what they want to see/hear again. In large groups, break the room into sections, by row, corner or section. Here's an example of this... "From this section (gesturing toward the group), let's hear a question that is on your mind."
  • Pair share. People pair up to discuss the question or topic. This forces each person to respond to the question, even if they are not sharing with you, the trainer. They're still getting the opportunity to talk about the content, and in a less intimidating manner than speaking up in front of the whole room. Then ask a few pairs to share what they discussed.
  • Overhead question. Try asking a check in question like, "Who thinks the answer is yes, raise your hand. What about no? Who's not sure?" This last part usually prompts some laughter and breaks down any barriers to people asking questions. It's a quick way to check if everyone is engaged.

The key takeaway from this article is to not wait until the training is over to find out that participants are not getting it.

Becoming a master trainer takes practice and guidance. To learn about our train the trainer program, "The Trainer's Edge", visit http://www.alignedperformance.com/train-the-trainer/.

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