Expert Solutions to the 12 Most Common Training Delivery Problems of Novice Trainers -
in "The Adult Learner" - Malcolm S. Knowles, Elwood F. Holton III, Richard A. Swanson
PROBLEM 1: FEAR
A. Be well prepared. Expert trainers have a detailed lesson plan, understand the material, and practice their presentation
B. Use icebreakers. Experts use icebreakers and begin with an activity that relaxes participants and gets them to talk and become involved.
C. Acknowledge the fear. Experts understand that fear is normal, confront what makes them afraid, and use positive self-talk or relaxation exercises prior to the presentation.
PROBLEM 2: CREDIBILITY
A. Don't apologize. Experts are honest about the subject matter and explain that they are neither experts nor conduits.
B. Have an attitude of an expert. Experts are well-prepared and well-organized. They listen, observe, and apply what they know to what the participants know.
C. Share personal background. Experts talk about their area of expertise and the variety of experiences they have had.
PROBLEM 3: PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
A. Report personal experiences. Experts tell their personal experiences, sometimes asking themselves probing questions to uncover them.
B. Report experiences of others. Experts collect personal stories and incidents from other people and/or have participants share their experiences.
C. Use analogies, movies, or famous people. Experts use familiar incidents or situations in order to relate to the subject.
PROBLEM 4: DIFFICULT LEARNERS
A. Confront problem learner. Experts use humour. They may also talk to the individual during a break to determine the problem or to ask the person to leave.
B. Circumvent dominating behaviour. Experts use non-verbal behaviour, such as breaking eye-contact or standing with their backs to the person and inviting others to participate.
C. Small groups for timid behaviour. Experts find that quiet people feel more comfortable talking in small groups or dyads. They structure exercises where a wide range of participation is encouraged.
PROBLEM 5: PARTICIPATION
A. Ask open-ended questions. Experts incorporate questions into the lesson plans and provide positive feedback when people do participate.
B. Plan small group activities. Experts use dyads, case studies, and role plays to allow people to feel comfortable, to reduce fears, and to increase participation.
C. Invite participation. Experts structure activities that allow people to share at an early time in the presentation.
PROBLEM 6: TIMING
A. Plan well. Experts plan for too much material, and some parts of the material are expendable. They prioritize activities so that parts may be deleted, if necessary.
B. Practice, practice, practice. Experts practice the material many times so they know where they should be at 15-minute intervals. They make sure there's a clock in the training room.
PROBLEM 7: ADJUST INSTRUCTION
A. Know group needs. Experts determine the needs of the group at an early time in the training and structure activities and processes based on those needs.
B. Request feedback. Experts watch for signs of boredom and ask participants either during breaks or periodically during the session how they feel about the training.
C. Redesign during breaks. Experts find it helpful to have contingency plans and, if necessary, to redesign the program during a break. Redesigning during delivery is not advocated.
PROBLEM 8: QUESTIONS
A. Anticipate questions. Experts prepare by putting themselves in the participant's place and by writing out key questions learner's might have.
B. Paraphrase learner's questions. Experts repeat and paraphrase participants' questions to ensure that everyone has heard the questions and understands them.
C. "I don't know" is okay. Experts redirect questions they can't answer back to the group's expertise. They try to locate answers during breaks.
A. Ask concise questions. Questions are a great tool for experts. They ask concise, simple questions and provide enough time for participants to answer.
PROBLEM 9: FEEDBACK
A. Solicit informal feedback. Experts ask participants, either during class or at the break, if the training is meeting their needs or expectations. They also watch for non-verbal cues.
B. Do summative evaluations. Experts have participants fill out forms at the conclusion of training to determine if the objectives and needs of the group were met.
PROBLEM 10: MEDIA, MATERIALS, FACILITIES
A. Know equipment. Experts know how to fully operate every piece of equipment they use.
B. Have back-ups. Experts carry a survival kit of extra bulbs, extension cords, markers, tape, etc. They also bring the information they are presenting in another medium.
C. Enlist assistance. Experts are honest with the group if there is a breakdown and ask if anyone can be of assistance.
A. Be prepared. Experts have all material ready and placed at each participant's workplace or stacked for distribution.
A. Visit facility beforehand. Experts visit a new facility ahead of time, if possible, to see the layout of the room and to get an idea of where things are located and how to set up.
B. Arrive early. Experts arrive at least one hour in advance to ensure enough time for setting up and handling problems.
PROBLEM 11: OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS
A. Develop an "openings file". Experts rely on the many sources for ice-breaker ideas. Through observation and experimentation, they develop ideas and keep a file of them.
B. Memorize. Experts develop a great opening and memorize it.
C. Relax trainees. Experts greet people as they enter, take time for introductions, and create a relaxed atmosphere.
A. Summarize concisely. Experts simply and concisely summarize the contents of the course, using objectives or the initial model.
B. Thank participants. Experts thank participants for their time and their contributions to the course.
PROBLEM 12: DEPENDENCE ON NOTES
A. Notes are necessary. Experts recognize that no one completely outgrows the need for notes.
B. Use cards. Experts scale down their presentations to an outline or key words, which they write on note cards to use as prompts.
C. Use visuals. Experts make notes on frames of transparencies and on their copies of handouts.
D. Practice. Experts learn the script well so that they can deliver it from the keyword note cards.