How to Plan an Employee Training Session

Here are 10 ways to make trainees feel welcome and improve their learning retention.

In-house training has become a popular option for facility operators, especially as budgets and staff numbers continue to thin. Once a training topic has been determined and expert instructors identified, it is imperative to make the training session appeal to trainees and ensure that they retain what they have learned. Here is a checklist to help things go as smoothly as possible:

Choose a date and location. Confirm that they work for everyone involved in the training session.

Make sure all participants are actually "invited" to attend. An invitation event will yield better overall results than a "mandatory training session." Promote excitement with an invitation that includes such details as an agenda, expected length of the session and food availability. Also encourage attendees to submit questions ahead of time, so the instructor can respond to them during the session.

Arrange for food and beverage service. And don't forget to provide any other necessary supplies - such as nametags, paper and writing utensils, handouts, and audio-visual equipment.

Create a friendly and collegial atmosphere. Have instructors welcome participants as they arrive and encourage colleagues to interact with their co-workers. This is particularly important when a training session involves employees from departments that don't typically communicate with each other.

If appropriate, incorporate a game format to cover key material and energize the learning environment. Good examples are modified versions of "Jeopardy," "Trivial Pursuit" and "Survivor." Encourage small group activities so all participants will have the opportunity to speak.

Utilize visual aids to increase retention. Use audio, video, flipcharts and hands-on demonstrations.

Provide a visible clock for presenters. This will help them stay focused and on schedule.

Distribute and collect evaluations. And don't forget to thank everyone for attending. It's a small gesture that can go a long way toward employees' appreciation of the training session.

Schedule post-session debriefings with participants. Identify what worked about the training and what could be done differently next time. This will make everyone feel invested in the process.

Create ways to remind attendees what they learned. E-mail and online newsletters, periodic meetings and bulletin-board postings work well.

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