As you know, the heart of any effective training is experiential education – exercises, activities, role plays, small group projects, and so forth.
Every successful activity begins with a set of instructions – what you want people to do – and the context for why you want them to do it.
You can design a terrific workshop, but unless you provide clear instructions and set up your exercises in a simple, understandable way, all your preparation can fall flat.
How do the pros address this challenge?
We asked our colleague Tammy Zonker of Fundraising Transformed to share her essential training tips. Tammy is a master trainer with years of experience teaching people how to raise money more effectively.
She shared some of her favorite training tips and tools. We’ve blended in some of our own to round out the list.
10 Little Tips That Can Make a Big Difference
1. Before you ask participants to introduce themselves, write a list of what you want them to cover on the flip chart, then tell them specifically as to how much time they have. “Please take no more than a minute to introduce yourself, covering the three topics on this page.”
2. When you ask your group a question, begin with the action you seek. Say, “Raise your hand if you have ever met with major donors.” Rather than, “How many of you have ever met with major donors?” Pause. “Please raise your hand.”
Stating the action first creates a better flow.
3. When asking participants to share their work or their ideas, ask “Who is WILLING to share?” rather than “Who WANTS to share?” If asked nicely, people may be willing to do something that they don’t actually want to do.
4. When you ask for participant feedback – “What did you learn by doing that exercise?” – be sure to thank and compliment the first person who responds. Recognizing that person’s courage sets the stage for lively participation by others.
If it feels appropriate, you can even encourage the other participants to applaud.
5. When a participant says, “I have questions,” direct her to ask these questions one at a time. You might say something like, “Okay, let’s start with the first one.”
6. If you want people to raise their hands so you can call on them, model that behavior – raise your own hand while giving the instruction.
7. If you’re going around the room, asking each participant to say something, choose the person you want to start. Make sure, in advance, he or she knows exactly what you want. The rest of the participants are more likely to mimic the first person’s example.
You can leave this to chance, and sometimes things work out fine. However, if you’re inclined to manage your time and content carefully, follow this advice.
8. When introducing a complex exercise, provide instructions twice. First, in an overview covering want the group to do. Second, step by step.
You can also write the steps on a flip chart in advance. (1. Find a partner, 2. Write notes for your pitch, etc.). Then reference the flip chart as you provide verbal instructions.
9. When you organize small groups to complete a task and then report on their work, encourage them to appoint a note-taker and a presenter when they first form their groups.
10. Finally, save some of your best for last. People remember what comes last. Be sure you conclude each exercise with something you want people to retain. Choose a great exercise to wrap up your workshop.
For example, you can end a training by asking each person to write down three things from the day they want to implement. Then have them pair up and discuss one item from their list, or go around the room and ask each person to name one thing they wrote.
None of these tips will make or break your workshop, but taken together, they can make you a stronger, smarter, and more effective trainer.
Bring us your tips!
We’re developing a longer list of training tips. Let us know your favorites. Email them to us or write them in the comment box below.
And a special thanks to Tammy Zonker for sharing her wisdom.