How to Write a Training Outline: Steps 4-6

In the first article of this series about how to write a training outline, I explained how useful the process is in making sure your training sessions are well-organized and well-received. I covered the first three steps of the process, including training basics, defining objectives, and nailing down both the purpose of the training and how you’re going to engage participants from the start. In this second article of the series, I’ll cover the last three steps of the process: Clarifying key topics, related concepts and timing; presentation techniques and materials; and evaluation, assessment and reflection.

How to Write a Training Outline: Putting it All Together

Step 4: Clarify Key Topics, Related Concepts, and Timing

For each learning objective, spell out the specific topics that need to be covered to achieve the objective, including any relevant related concepts necessary to fully understand the material. Estimate the amount of time you think you’ll need to spend on each topic, and then those will aggregate into how much time you’ll spend on each learning objective. Using the example of a leadership training and the learning objective of being able to define leadership, key topics might look like the following:

  • Related Topic – what makes for a good definition of leadership? Introduce Rost criteria: clear, concise, easily understandable, researchable, practical, and persuasive. Timing: Discuss for 10 minutes as needed.
  • Topic – Rost definition. Discuss briefly in light of criteria. Prompt with questions (what’s missing, etc.). Timing: 10 minutes.
  • Topic – Northouse definition. Discuss briefly in light of criteria. Prompt with questions (what’s missing, etc.). Timing: 10 minutes.
  • Related Topic – The role of values in defining leadership. Should a definition be neutral or value-free? What about coercion (evil dictators)? Timing: Discuss for 10 minutes or as long as needed.
  • Topic – Heifetz definition. Discuss briefly in light of criteria. Prompt with questions (what’s missing, etc.). Timing: 10 minutes.
  • Topic – Couto definition. Discuss briefly in light of criteria. Prompt with questions (what’s missing, etc.). Timing: 10 minutes.
  • Topic – Additional reflection and discussion. In light of the different definitions considered, can the group come up with something better? 30 minutes. 

Step 5: Presentation Techniques and Materials

Having determined the information you want to cover in your training, step five is for deciding how the material will be presented and what materials are needed. The choices here are only as limited as your imagination and technological capabilities. You might choose to deliver the content in a self-paced eLearning course with downloadable PDFs of supplemental content. For the leadership training example, I envision step five to consist of a PowerPoint slide deck along with physical paper handouts of the slides that includes additional definitions and supplemental references for further reading. When the group is creating its own definition of leadership, chart-pack paper on an easel, a dry-erase whiteboard, or a smart-board would be used to capture group-generated content. Get a free live demo and see how you can take your training outline to the next level.

Step 6: Evaluation, Assessment, Reflection

There are three components to step six because each component serves a different function. The evaluation component is where training participants are given the opportunity to provide feedback about their experience of the training. For ideas about the kinds of questions you should be asking of participants, see my previous articles, Level 1 Evaluation for eLearning: Reaction and More Questions for Level 1 eLearning Evaluation. The assessment component of step six is how you as the trainer are going to assess the learning achievement of your participants – whether or not they have learned what you intended for them to learn. Go back through each learning object and figure out how to assess the learning of participants. If you stuck to the SMART framework in creating the objectives, this shouldn’t be too difficult to do, making use of quizzes, assignments, and tests. The final component of step six is reflection, which means the trainer spending some time thinking about what went well, what didn’t go well, and coming up with a plan to improve future trainings.

Those are the six steps of creating an effective training outline. In the final installment of this series, I’ll present a full-blown example of what this can look like using a leadership training as an example.

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