At Prichard, we know the power of a good communications training to build capacity and facilitate knowledge sharing. We regularly design and deliver trainings for our foundation and nonprofit clients on communications topics from strategic planning to e-newsletters. Social media is a topic we love, and we recently delivered a full-day social media training to grantees our of long-time client The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Whether you are developing a training program for your team or your grantees, an online webinar or an in-person workshop, these projects are chock full of potential for impact. But trainings can also be intimidating to tackle. What format would best serve participants? What content would best meet their needs? How do you encourage participants to share?
This tried-and-true instructional design process to launch a top-tier training program answers these questions and more. Follow these five simple steps to create a communications training your participants will appreciate—and remember.
Step One: Analysis
Start by analyzing your participants’ learning needs and the subject matter at hand to map out the direction of the training.
This step most importantly enables you to identify your participants and fully assess their current strengths and needs in order to optimize the training you provide. That assessment may include a brief email survey for participants or short one-on-one calls to further explore their communications goals and challenges.
It’s also important to ensure that you do any research necessary to develop expertise at this stage. If the training focuses on quickly evolving topics like social media, you may want to carve out time here to research the latest updates and need-to-knows that will inform the training.
Step Two: Design
With the strengths and needs of your participants in mind and subject matter expertise in hand, this step enables you to design a training program that will make the most of the time you have with participants. You may also want to create opportunities for a group of participants to build relationships and share experiences.
Taking the time to fully think through and design your training program before you develop any content will ensure that you create a cohesive, interactive training format that leverages your participants’ strengths and meets their needs.
Step Three: Develop
Once you’ve developed your training design or format, you can move forward to develop the content and materials for the training. These may include Powerpoint presentations, informational handouts or cheat sheets, and workshop materials.
You’ll want to make sure that your content speaks to the experience, expertise and capacity of your participants. If it’s a group training, you’ll likely want to maximize opportunities for interactive comments and questions. Insert questions for participants to share how they have achieved success or develop a workshop for participants to try out your tips on a project of their own.
You may also want to rehearse your presentations and workshops in advance to make sure you and your team are polished before you hit the stage.
Step Four: Deliver
At this step, you are fully prepared and ready to deliver your new top-tier training to participants. Focus on engaging participants and communicating your content in a clear, concise manner. Make sure to speak slowly and take long pauses to allow room for questions and comments.
You may also want to offer your participants follow-up support for specific communications questions and technical assistance after the training. This support can take the form of brief phone calls one-on-one or with a group of participants, depending on the need.
Step Five: Evaluate
Even the most polished trainings should be evaluated after each delivery to inform future iterations. What went well? What could be improved? What information was helpful? And what information was old hat? This evaluation typically looks like a brief survey distributed to participants immediately after the training or via email.
Take the results of this evaluation seriously and approach responses with an open mind to optimize how the trainings you design and deliver in the future will look and feel.
How do you optimize trainings for your staff or grantees? Share in the comments below.