As you plan out what you want your participants to do consider the following:
1. Match your content to the needs of the group. It is important to challenge your participants and move toward new learning. Adult learners learn best when the material is thought provoking.
2. Carefully outline your session. There is nothing more frustrating for busy adult learners than a meeting or learning event that meanders or feels random. Most learners what to know where they are going, how they are going to get there, and the milestones they can expect on their journey together. Of course the facilitator must remain flexible to develop unexpected topics that emerge from the participants. Nevertheless, the overall flow of the workshop must be clear and sacred.
3. Be certain that your agenda has a lively pace to it.
4. Construct the learning event so that it has a sense of wholeness. This means it should have a beginning, middle, and end.
5. Depending on the length of the session, include various exercises and activities that are both meaningful and consistent with your participants. It is always a good idea to get the participants out of their chairs on occasion. Be certain that you allow enough time for the activities to unfold fully but not drag.
6. When you introduce an activity make certain that it has a clear and meaningful context. This means making it perfectly clear why the participants are doing the activity (objective); how it fits in with the overall flow of learning; and what they will get out of the activity (debrief each activity so participants can articulate what they have learned).
7. Be certain that you include enough to keep the session lively. However, identify particular agenda items that you could shorten or eliminate in case you run short of time. If you edit on your feet, do not jeopardize the “wholeness” of the training or the goals.
8. Ask yourself if your materials are visually appealing. When a participant enters the training room, he or she should see that this will be a place of learning.
9. Use PowerPoint in moderation. Don’t put your notes on slides–make them readable, relevant, brief, uncluttered, and visually appealing.
10. Build in adequate break time. Be careful not to break the power of an activity by disrupting it with a break.
11. Since everyone learns and retains information differently, design your training using a variety of delivery methods.
According to the National Training Laboratory, research shows the following average retention rates for different training methods:
- 5% Lecture
- 10% Reading
- 20% Audio-Visual
- 30% Demonstration
- 50% Discussion Group
- 75% Practice by Doing
- 90% Teaching Others