I was welcoming participants on the first morning of a three-day workshop. A young woman came in. She smiled, said “Good morning,” and went to find a seat. During the meet and greet she said to me, “All I want is to learn one thing. If I can take away one new thing, I’ll be happy.” As trainers we hear this often – “just one thing.” In my head I’m thinking, “Really?” This particular participant had travelled a significant distance and incurred significant costs in travel, hotel, meals and the course fee. All of this to learn “just one thing.”
We know we have a responsibility to offer participants value for their training time and training dollar. Participants also have a responsibility. They have the responsibility to participate and some participants even have the responsibility to expect more from their investment in training than just ONE thing.
Three days later, when leaving the workshop, the same participant, who would have been happy to learn “just one thing” said, “That was great! I learned so much! There are so many things that I can apply as soon as I get back to work – and, oh I had fun, too.”
Isn’t all training supposed to be like that? Every participant should be walking out the door with a sense of satisfaction, feeling that they got value for their valuable time and money.
So what does it take? We know a lot has to happen for participants to have this feeling at the end of a course. We need to have the right people in the right course at the right time. By right people I mean people who want and need to be there, and can apply the new knowledge and skill back on the job as soon as possible. The right course means that the course is well-designed, well-delivered, and has the “need to know” content for the participants. The course should be as skill-based and practical as possible – keep in mind that no one gets paid for knowing things – people get paid for doing things. If participants get lots of practice during training, it increases the chance that they will be successful in performing the skills learned back on the job.
Even if the course is well-designed, the instructor must be able to deliver it effectively. Many instructors don’t get sufficient preparation time which sometimes results in a lot of reading from slides. In addition to knowing course content, the instructor needs to have classroom management skills – meaning the ability to manage the group, the training environment, and themselves. In too many situations we have subject matter experts, without any classroom management skills, delivering training.
It is also important to note that my participant said she had fun. I believe that if the course content is relevant, challenging and sets participants up for success then people will have fun. This fun is a legitimate part of the learning experience and will help make people want to come back for more.
So, if we can get the stars to align – meaning the right people, in the right course, at the right time – we can anticipate that the participants will leave the workshop with a sense of satisfaction and value. If we can do that, then people will expect to “learn more than just one thing.”