Delivering your first face to face course can feel daunting. I remember the sheer fear I felt that first time (and a few times after that too!). The experience of standing there, all eyes on you, responsible for creating an engaging learning experience. I knew I’d prepared a great course, but now I had to deliver.
Since that daunting first day many years ago, I’ve learned a lot about how to deliver training face to face. If you’re starting your journey in learning and development, this article will share with you what I’ve learned over the years to help you be as prepared as possible for delivering your first face to face course.
I’ve broke down successful delivery into 3 key steps: Preparation, both before and on the day, then top tips for in the session.
Before the course checklist:
When learning how to deliver training, a well delivered learning intervention starts long before the event. After you’ve prepared your content, there may be a gap between this and the event. Take the time a week or two in advance to refresh your memory with the content, use this checklist below to help you:
- Have you re-read your lesson plan? – Make sure you remember what you plan to deliver. It’s also an opportunity to make any tweaks. Re-reading the content with a fresh pair of eyes can make you look at how to deliver training activities or content in a different way.
- Has any pre-work been sent out to the learners? – Make sure the learners have ample time to read through any pre-work, I’d aim for 2 weeks. Its enough time to digest and retain ready for the course.
- Have you got together all the required resources as per your lesson plan? Get checking those stationary cupboards before the day, just in case you need to order resources.
- Do you have your presentation (if using) on multiple formats? – If I’ve learned anything over the years is always have multiple versions of your presentation as you never know what technology will be like, especially if you’re delivering off site
On the day preparation:
There are some on the day things to do too, so get to the venue with plenty time.
- Test the tech first – The very first thing to do when you enter the room is to check that the technology works as planned, checking the sound too if you need it. If there are any tech issues this can take time to sort, so give yourself as much time as possible.
- Arrange the seating and tables – Move the room to whichever format works best for the content you’re running. This article on classroom arrangement can help if you’re unsure what format to use.
- Make the environment comfortable – Consider if you have any control over lighting, temperature, noise etc. All this can impact on learners engaging fully.
- Set out whatever resources are required – Get any resources on the tables, set up flipcharts around the room, put your handouts in the order that you’ll need them etc.
How to deliver training face to face – top tips:
The room is prepared, and the learners are arriving. Now we’re at the crux of how to deliver training. The focus is now on your delivery and how you engage with the group, this next section will share with you my main top tips, as a result of many years of delivering face to face learning.
Your delivery style
- Be yourself – bring your personality and authentic self into your facilitation style. There are some skills of a good trainer, but delivering the content in your own unique way is what will engage the group. Plus you’ll enjoy it more if you can be you.
- Presenting – Don’t read the information on the slides verbatim. Ad lib, share stories, use examples and provide context for the group. If your learning is only ‘telling’ what’s on the slides, then you could’ve simply circulated the slides and asked the group to read them.
- Explain activities clearly – Visuals are a great way to explain activities, or if you’ve got handouts pop the instructions at the top of there too. This can help ensure activities are clear. It’s also worth reflecting on how you’re explaining things if it’s happening often (which I had to – as I wasn’t providing enough detail!).
- Housekeeping – Explain to the learners about the fire procedures in the building you’re in and what to do in the case of the fire alarm sounding. Share with learners where the toilets are (don’t assume everyone knows).
- Welcome the group – Make sure you’re there to welcome the learners. Nothing looks less professional than you arriving after them and still needing to set the room up. Use the opportunity for small talk. It’s an early opportunity to gauge the group and find out any additional context about the learners, or their area of the organisation.
- Have a strong introduction – What is the purpose of the learning? Is there a personal impact story from you that you can share towards the benefit? If you can illustrate how you’re bought into the learning, it’ll encourage others to buy into it too.
- Provide learners with an overview of what you’ll cover – Give them a flavour of the content, perhaps sharing something that might hook them in for later. i.e. we’ll learn later what geese can teach us about teamwork. This gets the group curious.
- Provide plenty of space/time for discussion – You may be the subject matter expert on this topic but social learning is also a valuable way to learn. Encourage the group to discuss and share their experiences throughout.
- Videos – if you’re going to share videos make sure the group know what to look out for whilst watching, it’ll help them focus further. Another useful way to do this is to give them an activity whilst watching i.e. pick up on the use of body language.
- Timings – Breaks are important, if its less than an hour and a half the group can probably manage without but even in a 2 hour session I’d plan in a 10/15 minute coffee break. Stick to the end time you’ve agreed, if you’re way off the mark time-wise, reevaluate the amount of content you’re trying to cover in the session. Remember, less is more.
When it comes to learning, less is more.Sophia Grainger, Development Professionals
Ask the right questions
- Re-frame questions if you aren’t getting a response – One of my biggest fears when I first started facilitating learning was silence. I’d ask a question and it would feel like a lifetime had gone by whilst I desperately waited for someone to respond. Now I realise that silence isn’t a bad thing, it can mean the learners are taking the time to think of a response. If the group are struggling with an answer, focus on re-framing the question to see if that invokes a response.
- Ask questions to challenge thinking – I usually add summary questions into my lesson plan, just to start the ball rolling. When you’re having group discussions challenge thinking and ask questions. This will help to embed the learning.
- Read the room – As prepared as you are, some things you can’t account for. Such as the groups motivation, how they will respond to a topic or a challenging individual that affects the dynamic of the group. Be prepared to amend, switch, or even remove content as you see appropriate on the day. The group may need more time to discuss a topic and less time on other areas. So be flexible to the needs of the group.
- Manage the room – When you’ve got a particularly strong group you need to be prepared to manage them. When I first started out I’d ask the group to stop the activity or finish their conversations then find it really difficult to ask them again in a more assertive manner. Remember, you’re there to facilitate that session and keep it to time, don’t be afraid to be assertive when required. It can be as simple as saying “we’ve got a lot to cover so I really do need to move us along now but keep those conversations going in the break”
Closing the session:
- End well – Ensure you’ve got a strong, clear ending to the learning, let the learners know:
- What’s next?
- Where can they go for more information?
- Is there additional self-directed learning they can access? i.e. podcasts, books, articles etc.
- Ask the group what they’ve taken away from the experience and can start doing differently. Give them the chance to ask any final questions. Stick around at the end too in case anyone wants to ask you anything on a 1:1.
Those are my top tips for how to deliver training face to face. Get your preparation right and follow those top tips and you’ll do great! Good luck with delivering your first face to face training course!
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