Training with handouts

Have you ever sat in a training class with an instructor that spoke non-stop, perhaps with some nice slides? When the session was over, he assumed you got it and went on his way? I have, and I usually don’t “get it” just because I’m supposed to. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for lectures. It’s just that most of the training I’m involved in doesn’t fit that category.

For me, having relevant handouts can be key to keeping my audience engaged and helping them learn from the session. For handouts, I take one (or more) of three approaches:

1. Make my own fill-in-the-blank style, where I have my main points with sub-bullets that have a word replaced by an blank line. “Blog writing can be ________”. This also allows me to check in with the audience, and get feedback that they are engaged.

2. Make a simple list of resources, such as on-line links (i.e. URLs) for them to use after the session. “For more tips, check out” (Note: That reference belongs to Craig Valentine). One nice thing about the resource list is, again, I can use it to check in to see if they’re getting it.

3. Borrow from professionals. When I’m doing training for Toastmasters, I’ll routinely borrow from a club leadership manual or FAQ on the website to provide credible information with minimal work. Of course, I always cite my source. The trick here is to make sure my experience adds value, not to simply read off someone else’s material.

Of course, these styles can be combined into one handout, or used in separate events. The point is to use the information to help your audience understand what you’re training, and have something they can reuse later when they have questions or want to review what they learned.

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