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How to Facilitate a Training Class: The Ultimate Guide
It’s one thing to direct employees to online courses or hire outside specialists to come in and help conduct training sessions. It’s a whole other skillset to actually be the one facilitating critical employee training courses. As you prepare to take on this role at your organization, we hope this guide on how to facilitate a training class will help you create a powerful, engaging session.
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How to Prepare for a Productive Session
Setting the stage begins well before the training session. You want to make sure you’re prepared to explain to the participants who you are, what they’re doing in the session, and why it matters. Ensuring everyone comes to the session feeling comfortable and having a clear sense of why they’re there helps lay the groundwork for a fruitful discussion. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing:
- Take a pulse. Get to know the participants beforehand by sending an email introducing yourself, your background, and an overview of the training. A great idea here is to include a short “get-to-know-you” survey for participants, including questions about who they are, what their role is at the organization, what they know about the training, and what they hope to get out of it.
- Partner up. You’ve heard the saying, “Two is better than one.” This is especially true when it comes to facilitation. Sharing the stage with someone allows you to naturally create more dialogue and set a more conversational tone for the training. Especially when you’re new to facilitating training classes, it’s good to have an ally in the room to help share the role and keep the energy levels up.
- Brief yourself. A tool like the Facilitator’s Toolkit is a helpful place to start when you’re planning out the logistics of your training. This toolkit provides more than 40 approaches for ensuring a diverse and resonant learning experience, including organizing tools, approaches for diagnosis and discussion, deciding tools, and planning tools.
How to Get the Most Out of the Training Class
Put your preparation into action here! When you’re facilitating a training class, think and assess as a teacher would: make sure you’re leading with clear goals and examples, setting a mindful and appropriate tone, and keeping people engaged.
Establish Goals & Expectations
From the start, make sure people know why they’re there. Lead the training with a clear message about what the training is, why they’re doing it, and what they’ll leave the training with. This is a great place to introduce your get-to-know-you survey findings. It gives participants a sense of how their peers are feeling, breaks the ice, and gets everyone on the same page.
Set the Stage
As the facilitator, you set the tone for the training. Make sure the tone you’re setting corresponds with the training. For example, if it’s the training is on a dry subject, ensure you establish a light, fun, and engaging tone to keep people interested. If it’s a serious topic around workplace harassment, ensure your tone is serious and consequential to convey the gravity of the training.
In addition to opening up the training with goals and objectives, it’s also always helpful to make sure everyone in the training knows each other. They’ll be spending a lot of time working together, after all. Whether that’s making name tags, assigning new partners for each training task, or doing a quick name round-robin, getting your participants comfortable around one another will help create a more relaxed and productive environment.
Check in Often
Throughout the session, come back to the goals you set from the outset often. After each section of training, check in with the group. Ask how close they feel to understanding the objective of the session and work to answer any questions. Making sure people feel caught up throughout the training minimizes the chances of overwhelming them. When people start to feel overwhelmed and lost, they’ll completely tune out the whole session.
It's a Conversation
No one’s going to listen to an hours-long lecture. It’s simply not feasible for our attention spans. We also learn better if we’re actually tasked with doing what we’re learning. It’s crucial, then, to make your training session an engaging, interactive dialogue. If you must lecture, make sure you’re often interjecting with quiz questions and group activities that involve moving about, brainstorming, and creating tangible outcomes.
These fun balls offer a range of "get to know you" options in an enjoyable and relaxed activity. Toss the ball and share your reaction to whatever prompt lies under your thumb!
How to Follow Up and Leave an Impact
The training doesn’t end at the session itself. Ensure participants are applying their new skills to their jobs by creating follow-up assessments, benchmarks, and accountability:
- Send follow-up. Send a follow-up survey to assess how the training was received. This will help inform your facilitation skills and improve future training as well. It will also give you a good sense of how much participants got out of the training so you can determine what next steps may be needed.
- Create accountability. To make the learning stick, participants need to feel accountable for putting what they learned into practice. This could mean following up with managers to make sure the skills learned are part of participants' objectives and regular assessments. It could mean continued in-person training that builds on one another. Or it could mean continuing the conversation with mandatory online learning journeys. Think about how you want to keep the training topic top-of-mind, and work with your organization to implement an effective accountability mechanism. Most importantly, though, make sure participants know that they’re being held accountable. You’d be surprised how much this affects the level of attention you receive as a facilitator!
What’s the recipe for training facilitation success? Intentional preparation, high engagement, productive conversation, and accountability. Make sure you apply these tips while preparing for your training, and you’ll be on track for an effective experience.
HRDQ is a leading provider of training materials. From workshops and assessments to simulations, games, facilitation tools, and more, we have everything you need to create an engaging, successful training program.