You designed a solid agenda. You delivered a terrific training, with lots of engaging exercises and activities. Everybody learned a lot, laughed a lot, and is anxious to try out their new skills.
Before they return to their busy lives, everyone needs to take a breath, prioritize what they’ve learned, and make a plan. As a trainer, it’s your job to create (really, to mandate) that opportunity.
Here are three options to help participants plan their next steps.
2-minute option: Tell me what you’re going to do
If your time is short – my usual situation – try this. As they prepare to leave the class, ask everyone to stand up, pair up, and share one action item for the workshop. If you’ve got a mixed group, encourage them to talk with someone from a different organization.
The process of verbalizing an action step fixes it more firmly in the brain. Sharing it with another deepens our commitment to follow through. And by listening to others, we all get additional ideas for implementation.
As the pairs finish, they are free to leave. Because of this quick conversation, they will head out into the world with a little more energy and direction.
5-minute option: Make a three-month map
On your flip chart, write the following:
Ask the participants to reproduce this on a piece of paper, then fill it in – two implementation tasks to be completed during the next week, two to be completed in a month, and two more over the next three months. If you prefer, hand out this worksheet.
This quiet moment to sit, think, and write is a gift you can give to the participants, especially after a busy workshop.
If you have the time, encourage them to share what they’ve written with another person, as in the two-minute version above.
10-minute option: What do we all want to do next?
If you’re training a team – for example, an entire board (your own board?!) – reserve time for the group to plan next steps and make assignments.
You can provide them with a simple planning template, like the one above, or let them develop their own. This planning time allows the group to confirm what it has learned, what it wants to do, and who will do what. The process of talking, sharing, and planning together builds cohesion and momentum.
I just returned from a fundraising training in Iowa that included trustees from six different nonprofits. At the end, I asked them to circle up with their board colleagues to plot next steps. Once they began talking, the energy level jumped. Several groups stayed late because they were excited about developing their implementation plans.
The most important time is the time you give back to the group
As you design your workshop, it’s easy to include too much content and not enough time to fit it all in.
Be disciplined. Save a little time at the end so everyone can make a plan to apply what they’ve learned. It will deepen their learning and help extend the impact of your workshop well beyond the time they’ve spent with you.