Content, Preparation & Planning: The Trifecta for Effective Live Group Training

Tips for How to Support Your In-house Trainers

This time of year marks a transition from development and consultation to live group training here at 20-20 Services. For most of our clients, this is a time of transition as well. Tax returns have been filed, audit binders locked down, and quarterly reviews and June year-end planning are on the docket. But after a few deep breaths following tax season, most firms begin another important part of their year – the training season! Many of our clients take the opportunity between deadlines to schedule some of their first trainings of the year. At 20-20 Services, we start a bit earlier, by getting our team of instructors ready to hit the road delivering training programs around the country.

In addition to hosting 20-20’s live group training programs, many of our clients also lead their own training programs. Some clients license our course material to teach using their own professionals, while others develop programs internally. Anyone who has been involved in delivering in-house training programs knows that these can be highly effective and valuable sessions… when they are done right! You may also have experienced training sessions that have not had the desired impact.

In this edition of the 20-20 blog we will explore three key components of strong live group training programs and how your firm can support your in-house training instructors.

Do you develop your own training material internally? Do you license content from another provider? Wherever your material comes from, the quality of the material is a key criterion for delivering successful programs. What should you look for in training material?

  • Clearly defined training objectives
  • Clear and easy to read material
  • Opportunities for participant engagement
  • Practice exercises or activities
  • Leader’s notes or guidance

When identifying group training sessions, it’s important to consider the quality of the training content that will be delivered. Clearly defined objectives are not only important for the learner but also help the instructor stay on task during a training session and set priorities. The look and feel of the material is important as well. PowerPoint slides, handouts and other material should be well organized, easy to read, concise and help the learner meet the learning objectives.

At 20-20 Services, we believe that no training session can be effective without participant engagement and opportunities to practice the skills learned. NASBA (the body that oversees CPE Sponsors in the United States) agrees and has incorporated participant engagement into their requirements to receive CPE credit under their new standards effective this year. Ideally, course materials provide a high level of participant engagement through various instructional methods designed to engage learners with different learning styles and preferences. Changing teaching modality, opportunities for group discussion, case studies, role plays and exercises that encourage movement and energy, are all key parts of quality training curriculum.

Lastly, robust leader’s guidance helps an instructor deliver a strong class and provides a quality control for consistency in delivery between different instructors. If you’ll be delivering a training program more than once, the investment in leader’s guidance is invaluable for saving time and improving quality.

One of the most common concerns we hear from instructors is finding the preparation time needed to get ready for a class. The challenge of fitting in preparation time amidst a demanding schedule and client commitments is a valid concern. Supporting your instructors by allowing dedicated preparation is a worthwhile investment that results in better programs. There is no magic formula as to how much preparation time one should require. The experience of the presenter in both delivering training and in the subject matter will drive their needs. Preparation may include reviewing the content and leader’s guidance, but it typically includes a lot more, including:

  • Exploring additional depth in the subject matter
  • Planning for classroom interactions and participant questions
  • Learning the flow and design of the content
  • Adjusting the content to fit the instructor’s and participants’ styles
  • Coordinating logistical details

The payoff for proper preparation is a better training experience for all involved.

There is no substitute for good old fashioned practice when it comes to delivering training programs. The more you get up in front of a group, the more comfortable you will become. Receiving feedback is a key part of the practice process. Presenters are encouraged to practice their delivery alone or to a small group many times before presenting. Presenters should solicit feedback from their audience and work with a mentor to help improve their skills. Videotaping a practice session and watching it back is a great way to identify areas for improvement when you don’t have an audience to provide feedback.

In conclusion, firms that deliver successful in-house training invest in their programs via strong content and experienced, prepared instructors. Developing experienced instructors within your firm is a valuable resource that has many advantages in addition to improved internal trainings. These presenters are often top choices for speaking at client events, conferences and industry meetings. They bring these skills to proposals, board meetings and networking events and often emerge as leaders at the firm.

At 20-20 Services, we offer a “Presentation, Instruction and Facilitation Skills” (“PIFS”) course that helps professionals hone their skills in delivering training sessions and provides real-life practice opportunities with live feedback. Participants in the PIFS courses leave with practical ideas, concrete action items for improvement and more confidence in their ability to instruct a training program.

It takes all three components – content, preparation and practice – to achieve the best outcomes of your in-house training programs. If you’d like to learn more about how to develop your professionals to teach their best training sessions and other public speaking skills, give us a call.

Written by Jessica Sacchetti,  EVP of Learning at 20-20 Services LLC. In addition to developing course content, Jessica is a seasoned 20-20 training road warrior who delivers audit and personal development programs to firms and classrooms around the US.

Posted in 2020 Insight.