Essential Training Tips for the Non-Trainer

As a subject matter expert (SME), you know your stuff. But you’re not trained in instructional development or delivery. How do you begin?

Even if you are not a trained facilitator, you may be asked to create learning content in order to share your expertise. As a SME, it is understood that you have a more advanced, technical understanding. While technical knowledge is helpful, it may be too in-depth for the layman. Here are five instructional development tips to help get you started on content creation, and classroom delivery.

1. Rationale: Why should someone take this course?

Our colleagues have full calendars, deadlines to meet and phone calls to return. If you expect them to temporarily come away from those obligations to sit through your class, you should be able to demonstrate the benefit. Remember to address the WIFM question: What’s In It For Me?

Will your course help them do their jobs better? Enhance what they already know? Additionally, know that your colleagues come with their own level of expertise, and appreciate the opportunity to be able to link to prior knowledge and experiences to what they are currently learning. The learning environment should be one of partnership. Finally, and if at all possible, be mindful of when the learning takes place. You want the learner to take action, and be able to use what they’ve learned right away.

A helpful acronym for establishing rationale is BEPA (benefit, experience, partnership, action).

2. Objectives: What is the course trying to achieve?

An objective is what the learner should be able to do, as a result of your instruction. A clearly defined objective also provides direction for content development. Further, it specifies behaviors the learner must be able to demonstrate, in order to confirm understanding.

There are two types of learning objectives:

  • Terminal – Desired final outcome; what you would ultimately like the students to learn.
  • Enabling – Action steps that lead to the final learning outcome.

3. Activities: What techniques will be used to promote learning?

When delivering training, try not to rely too heavily on one technique or another. We have all heard of the dreadful death by Powerpoint: endless slides stuffed with lengthy narratives, and outdated graphics. Instead, have a combination of lecture, presentation and exercise. Take into account that there are different learning styles. Allow time for discussion and questions. Finally, offer time for hands-on, or a live demonstration.

4. Evaluation: How will the instructor measure understanding?

Throughout the training, check in with your learners and offer opportunities for questions. At the conclusion of your session, be sure to do a wrap-up and summary, which will be a reiteration of the terminal and enabling objectives. Ask once again, if there are any steps that should be revisited. Immediately after class, issue a survey. The Kirkpatrick Model has four levels of evaluation: 1. Reaction; 2. Learning; 3. Behavior; and 4. Results.

As a SME, however, you’ll probably be more concerned with Level 1 (Reaction). This level captures learners’ immediate reaction to the training; specifically, the quality of the instruction, delivery and relevancy of the topic, and the room accommodation (equipment, location, etc.). This helps to identify what topics may have been missing for your session, and what you might be able to improve upon for future training sessions.

5. Feedback: How will the instructor know you’re grasping the information?

Soliciting feedback from your learners during your session is important. Ask questions that confirm their understanding of the material. An example of this would be a scenario question, wherein the learner has to give an example of when/how they will use one of the steps covered. Another example is to revisit the hands-on function and allow time for learners to execute steps independently. This also keeps the learner engaged.

For more resources on instructional design, visit the following:

Telling Ain’t Training

ADDIE Model for Training

10 Tools for Trainers

Hope Marshall is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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