Twelve steps for designing effective training programs

If you have to design a new class, a lot of preparation work and practice run-throughs are required for a polished final product. Read through these steps to make sure you're doing everything necessary to create a successful class.

As trainers, we are often called upon to design our own training based on the needs of the organization. When creating training programs, trainers need to follow certain guidelines to create an effective package. Here is an effective format I have used.

Preparing the information
The first task is to determine what you have to teach and how you’re going to teach it.
  1. Figure out the skills you need to teach.
    Write an outline of the specific skills you intend to teach and prioritize those skills in the order they should be taught.
  2. Divide these skills into specific groups.
    From your outline, organize the skills you need to teach into sets of steps. These groups should provide enough material for two-hour training increments, including an assessment at the end.
  3. Check for continuity and completeness.
    Make sure that the steps you have chosen for each group include everything needed to learn a particular skill. If your training segment is on icons on the drawing toolbar, include all the drawing toolbar icons in the training session. Package information logically.

Creating the class
Now that you know what you need to teach, you have to decide how to convey the information to your students.
  1. Design your presentation.
    Whether you use PowerPoint, Word, or other software to design your presentation, take the time to write it down or type it up, making sure to double-space your lines for easy reading.
  2. Read through the presentation as though you had never learned these skills before.
    Make notes for additions, changes, screen shots, etc.
  3. Rewrite the changes and add the screen shots.
    Run the software and make the appropriate screen shots. I use [Alt][Print Scrn], go to the Paste command in Microsoft Paint to make a screen shot, and then add any text, arrows, or circles to point out important cues. These will be used for the written documentation and guidelines you will use as well as for handouts for the students. Check to make sure these screen shots are effective in pointing out important information.
  4. Run through the information again.
    If necessary, ask another trainer to look over your design and give you feedback. If anything is unclear or left out, this is the time to fix it.
  5. Write the training guideline.
    Training guidelines should be written with instructions for the trainer in bold letters. Also, make sure that the font you use is large, say 14 points, and in an easy-to-read font, such as Arial, so that you can glance at it quickly and find it easy to follow. Each training department should have a standard style for writing training guides and handouts so that they are easy to follow when doing cross-training.
  6. Design the handouts.
    On paper, design effective handouts that go with each section of the training. Then, type them up and add in the screen shots needed to emphasize points.

Trial runs
You’ll need to go over your class both alone and with an audience. This will make you more comfortable with the presentation and help to iron out any last glitches.
  1. Have another trainer go over the presentation, or even have a guinea pig (a new user) go over it and point out anything that needs clarification or simplification. Make the changes.
  2. Test the presentation. With other trainers, test your presentation. Have someone time it and get feedback on needed changes and/or corrections. Practice the overhead presentation steps that accompany the training, whether you are using an overhead attached to the computer, a simple overhead projector, or a TV attached to the computer.
  3. Retest the presentation. Make last minute notes and/or changes.

A solid, complete package
If you follow these guidelines, you should be able to write effective, quality training for any software.

Remember to keep it in order, keep it simple and easy to follow, and make sure you have practiced the presentation several times (enough to become at ease with the program), and you will be assured of an effective training presentation.

Marsha Glick has a variety of training experience. Currently she works in the private sector with small businesses and with individuals. She has taught in special needs labs with special equipment for blind, deaf, and physically handicapped students. She also was a trainer at a public library with 200 employees.

What’s the best way to create a new training program? How do you prepare for a new presentation? Send us your tips for good class design and confident teaching skills.