5 Tips For Planning the Perfect Training or Meeting for Your Association
No one wants a training event or meeting to go better than you—the person who is planning it. But if you're a leader of a member organization such as an association or a nonprofit, chances are that you're an expert in your particular field—but not necessarily in the specific area of training event planning and management.
Whether this description fits you, or you're just looking to improve your organization's training program implementation, here are five tips that you execute a successful event or meeting:
1. Keep the Training Class Size Small
While it may be cost-effective to pack hundreds of people into a room at one time, studies show that an optimal learning environment breaks up students into smaller groups for more personalized sessions. Smaller class sizes are more conducive to learning, with learning experts recommending between 15 and 20 people for the ideal learning experience.
Of course, it’s not always practical to limit training events to small groups, especially with a high demand speaker or if you're working on a short planning timeline, but it is important to find ways to make the training feel more intimate in some way. Some instructors encourage people to text in questions mid-presentation for the trainer to address or employ gaming to keep the class engaged. Small group interaction has also become common for testing material in a closed environment. But if your training must be a large event, it's best to find a way to make at least a portion of it small.
2. Emphasize Interactivity for Better Knowledge Retention
A training event should be interactive. According to the Association for Talent Development, people remember only 20% of what they hear, but they will retain 90% of what they do, which means that learners will respond better to less lecture and more application and hands-on learning.
Plan time for participants to practice the material or knowledge on their own or with the group. This can come in the form of role-playing, discussion questions, or tactile exercises—depending on the subject of the training. Get creative with participation and be cognizant of adult learning styles—learners will remember the material better, remember you for the unique exercise, and recall the training as a positive experience.
3. Select the Ideal Training Center
A venue can make or break a training event. An ideal training venue will support the needs of the event, spatially, technologically and logistically. When choosing a training space, make sure there is technical support or special accommodations if needed. Work with a training delivery firm that will help you contain costs while providing the best service.
This subject is so important that MicroTek's Global Meeting Services Manager, Beth Becker, wrote an article about it—5 Mistakes NOT to Make When Choosing a Training Venue. Check it out for more insights on best practices for picking the right venue for your event.
4. Schedule Break Times
Time spent resting is just as important as time spent learning. After hours of training, the students—and trainer—will be ready for a break. Scheduling frequent breaks helps refresh learners, give them time to catch up on texts or e-mails and provides necessary personal time to learners.
Breaks can also be a good way to organize information. Place them between learning modules and participants will receive the information better and retain it.
Providing snacks during training can also be useful in reducing distractions from an empty stomach.
5. Hire a Qualified Instructor
An interactive and exciting instructor will naturally lead to interactive and exciting training. Choosing the right trainer is key to successful knowledge transfer and a positive learning experience. The instructor should be a subject matter expert. Their perspective should be new, innovative and relevant to the learners’ perspective.
Expertise must also be matched with communication skills. A good trainer is able to express dynamic ideas and complex information in an accessible way. Experience in the subject matter should be matched by experience in teaching, both in a public forum and one-on-one. The trainer is the person that the participants are coming to see, so he or she should be knowledgeable and charismatic enough to justify the event.
You have put in a lot of time in planning this event and nobody wants it to go better than you do. Keep these 5 tips in mind in order to create a positive learning experience.