Ever wondered how the trainer of the workshop you are sitting in right now came up with the methods she is using? Or do you know the overwhelming feeling that can overtake you as a facilitator when you get a new topic and do not know where to start?
I know both feeling quite well! Over time I developed a method to plan each of my training.
In this upcoming series of blog posts, I want to give you some insights into this planning process. I will show you how to get to all the information you need to get started, walk you through the steps to design a holistic learning journey for the participants and choose the methods that ensure the wished outcomes.
Of course, I will not dump all this information on you in just one post! The first part of this series will give you a general overview of the different steps, along side some tips and tricks.
My planning process consists of four main stages. Everything begins with the topic or theme of the training. From there, I develop the training objectives and learning outcomes. The second step is to take the objectives and create a learning journey for the participants. Out of this roadmap, I identify the thematic building blocks; to finally choose the concrete methods that are the backbone of the training.
But let’s start at the beginning!
From the topic to the training objectives and
For me, this first phase is the most client or host intensive step of all four. You will want to take as much time as needed with your partner to break down the topic as precisely as possible. Do not let them escape with: ‘The training shall be about feminism.’ If they did not formulate them themselves, you should help to define the objectives and to set learning outcomes as tangible as possible.
Besides the thematic information, it is crucial in this step that you get as much information as possible regarding participants, time and place of the training and the background of your partners themselves, like general aims and objectives of organisation or company. A training for five participants looks entirely different from one for fifty. Also, it is necessary to know the age group and background of the participants.
Try to put yourself as soon as possible in the shoes of the participants. While you are discussing the objectives and outcomes with your partners, always try to imagine the participants’ expectation alongside. There is a ton of methods on how to define objectives. It will be the subject of a detailed post later.
From the objectives to the design of a learning journey
This step is all about the participants and their experience during the training! It is important to create an experience as smooth as possible, where the predatory effort
is not visible to the participants. Therefore I always aim to find a narrative for the training, a story the group will build together. To do so, you need to identify how the
objectives build up on each other and what is important to experience before you open another aspect. It might be necessary to go back to the objectives at that point to adjust them.
Like in every good story always make sure there are no loose ends, and everything serves a purpose. The participants do not to see the connections immediately each time, but a final Aha-moment is crucial. We will come back to this in a later post of this series.
Pro-tip: If I have to plan a training over several days, I choose a topic for each day.
From the learning journey to the thematic building blocks
After outlining the learning journey for the participants, focus on the topic and thematic of the training. I start with identifying thematic clusters along the way and structure the informative material accordingly. List the key terms and concepts that need to be established and the skills that need to be developed or extended.
Sometimes you might discover that the logical connections between the individual blocks do not work. In this cases, you need to go back and revise the design of the learning journey. The clearer and more natural the structure is the fewer surprises you will end up having during the facilitation. This whole step will be covered in more depth in the fourth part of this series.
From the building blocks to the selection of methods
Now the fun part begins!! I love to go through methods and pick the diamonds for
each training I facilitate! Sometimes, I finally find the right spot for the new methods I wanted to try for so long! What a sweet feeling
But, as with everything nice, there is the backlash as well! To minimise the risks, you should review your first selection of methods and ask yourself some questions. What
learning types do the methods address? What personally types? Do they work naturally with the rest of the session ?? Do they achieve the objectives and generate the learning outcome? But also, will the participants and you have fun? Is there enough time and space for down time? And, are you brave enough with your selection? 😉 We will speak about this in all extend in the fifth and last part of this series. I am already excited!!
Pro tip: Because I never know how exactly the group and the on the spot mood of each session will be, I always bring some Plan B methods alongside to the training!
So there they are my four steps on how to tackle any training. They are like four hats I put on. I start with the hat of the client or host and define what the aims of the training are and what information is needed. Then I put on the hat of the participants and ask myself what will be the experience during the training. With the topic hat in the third step, I discover what information and which skill is need when. And finally with my favourite hat – the hat of the methods – I choose which method will serve the participants and their learning the best.
How about you? How do you tackle a new training, workshop or session? Let me know in the comments below. Which of the four steps would be your favourite?!
Let’s facilitate Change together!