Why bother to put together a training outline if you feel you already know what you’re doing? Here’s what you want to avoid: Forgetting to cover some key content points, then trying to go back and cover those points after you realize you left them out, then running out of time for participants to ask all the questions they wanted to ask because you had to backtrack to cover what you missed, and then afterwards wondering if your audience really got what they needed out of the training. No matter how good you think you are, making sure your training is well organized and thoroughly planned is the ultimate key to success, and a training outline serves as a roadmap to get you there.
In this series of articles, I’ll be covering how to put together a killer training outline that does everything you need it to do.
It’s useful to think of creating a training outline as an incremental process that includes the following six steps:
- Step 1: The basics. Who is your audience? What is the broadly defined topic you need to cover?
- Step 2: Define your training/learning objectives. What exactly do you need people to know or be able to do by the end of the training?
- Step 3: Purpose and Opening. Why is it important for people to take this training? What will you do to capture their attention and get them engaged right from the start?
- Step 4: Clarify key topics, related concepts, and timing.
- Step 5: Presentation techniques and materials. How will you present the content and what materials do you need?
- Step 6: Evaluation, assessment, reflection. How will you determine if participants have learned what they need to know? How will you find out if participants thought the training was effective and enjoyable? How will you learn lessons from this training that can be applied to future trainings?
This first article of this series will cover the steps 1-3, the second article will cover steps 4-6, and the third article will walk you through an example and provide you with a template you can follow each time you need to create a training outline. Throughout the series, I’ll be offering examples based on a fictional leadership training to illustrate various points and elements of a training outline.
Step 1: The Basics
Know your audience is very important, because it might have an impact on other steps further along in the training outline process. If your audience is made up of people who are similar along various demographic characteristics, you can be sure to tailor your training to them. You should also know the broad topic of your training, which you probably already know or you wouldn’t be reading an article about how to put together a training outline. For example, the broad topic might be leadership training, and your target audience may be mid-level managers who are beginning to be prepared for upper-level management and leadership positions.
Step 2: Define Your Training/Learning Objectives
What exactly do you need people to know or be able to do by the end of the training? Make each of your objectives SMART. Many of you might be familiar with the SMART acronym as it applies to goal-setting, but it’s the perfect framework to use when creating training/learning objectives as well. In this framework, each objective should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Using the SMART model gets you thinking in all the right directions and covers all the bases when creating a training outline. For leadership training, some example learning objectives might include the following:
- Define leadership.
- Articulate the difference between management and leadership.
- Describe several examples of good leaders in terms of what makes them good leaders.
Step 3: Purpose and Opening
One thing your participants need to know early on in the training is why it’s important. You need to make the purpose serious enough that everyone knows there’s a lot at stake to help incentivize engagement. For the leadership training example, I might emphasize how important it is for the company’s future that we develop leaders internally, perhaps even presenting some evidence about promote-from-within strategies. It will also help immensely if you can combine this with some kind of opening sequence or activity that helps spur deep, enthusiastic commitment to fully participate. In the leadership training example, I might use something like the Stand by Your Quote (source) activity to get people thinking about leadership concepts right from the start.
With these first three steps, you’re already well on your way to creating the kind of training outline that will greatly enhance the effectiveness of your trainings. Read on to the second article in this series to find out about steps 4-6 of the training outline process.
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