Effective Training Delivery Methods for Maximising Learning Outcomes

All training is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Choosing the right training delivery method is essential for achieving the desired learning outcomes. This article will explore the principles and practices that make training delivery more effective and engaging for participants.

The principles

When designing and delivering training, it’s essential to understand the key principles that contribute to an effective and engaging learning experience. These principles serve as a foundation for creating impactful training programs that not only meet the needs of the participants but also foster long-term knowledge retention and skill development. By incorporating these principles into your training delivery, you can ensure that your sessions are both enjoyable and valuable for the participants. The key principles to consider include:

  1. Short Bursts: Maintaining attention and focus.
  2. Varied Techniques: Addressing diverse learning styles.
  3. Relevant Content: Enhancing participant motivation.
  4. Accessibility: Creating an inclusive learning environment.
  5. Assessments: Measuring progress and providing feedback.
  6. Participant-focused Approach: Prioritizing learner needs.
  7. Engaging Activities: Stimulating interest and enhancing learning.

To maximize the effectiveness of your training delivery, it’s essential to understand and apply each of these principles in depth. Let’s explore them one by one:

Short Bursts: Maintaining attention and focus

The human brain’s capacity to maintain focus and attention dwindles over time. Breaking your training sessions into shorter segments of 15 minutes or less can help maintain participant engagement and ensure optimal retention of the material. These shorter bursts encourage trainers to deliver concise, targeted content and can help maintain a lively pace throughout the session.

0-15 minutes: Small group discussions.

16-30 minutes: Whole group Q&A session.

31-45 minutes: Input from a trainer.

46-60 minutes: Practical paired activity to put the learning into practice – e.g. through a case study.

 

Varied Techniques: Addressing diverse learning styles

Every participant has a unique learning style that may vary depending on the context, material, and personal experiences. By incorporating a variety of techniques into your training, you cater to these diverse learning preferences, ensuring each participant feels included and supported. Mixing up activities, such as group discussions, individual work, and interactive problem-solving, creates an engaging learning environment that accommodates different learning styles.

Typical learning preferences include:

Word: Being most comfortable with reading text.
Logic: Enjoying working out puzzles, seeing the logic in a sequence, process or procedure.
Visual:

 

Understanding and remembering better if pictures, models and graphs are used.
Movement:

 

For some, getting up and moving around – being active – helps them feel energized and focused; too much sitting for them is a real turn-off.
Sound: Some people find it easier to recall tunes, or rhythm, or tempo. (Think how often you or others automatically sing along when a favourite song comes on the radio – and yet you’ve made no effort to learn the words… And you probably wouldn’t be able to recall the words without the music playing).
Social: Some people seem to learn best by working in a group – either in hearing others’ views and ideas; or doing something collaboratively, where each individual has a crucial contribution to make).
Self:

 

Some learners prefer to have their own time, to learn in a way and at a time that suits them best, without other distractions.

 

The diagram below might help you design a course where you can plan the mix of learning approaches – for instance, in the example below, and assuming the training course has 7 activities, then this plan has ensured all 7 learning preferences are covered, and each activity requires the participants to use at least 3 of the learning preferences.

Relevant Content: Enhancing participant motivation

When training content is relevant and directly applicable to a participant’s work or personal life, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged. To ensure the content’s relevance, conduct a thorough needs assessment before the training begins. This may involve speaking with the client, surveying participants, or conducting focus groups to gather insights into their specific needs and expectations. Relevance can be determined in two major ways:

 

Method 1

Ask the client, ahead of the training, what the relevance is for those attending. This will usually involve talking about outcomes from the learning (which is why training is only ever a means to an end). For example, it is difficult to decide what to put into a course on ‘Time Management’ if as trainer you don’t know what your client expects the participants to be able to do differently or better as a result of the course.

 

Method 2

Ask the participants, either via email or a focus group before the training, or at the beginning of the training. The main message here is to convert a generalised topic into a set of relevant issues. For example, Time Management’ is a generalised topic, whereas:

  • Learning how to prioritise
  • Dealing with interruptions
  • Finding the balance between urgent and important

… are issues, and tackling these will be more relevant than just talking about the topic.

 

Accessibility: Creating an inclusive learning environment

An effective training delivery must be accessible to all participants, regardless of their abilities, background, or language proficiency. This includes considering any physical, cognitive, or sensory impairments that may impact a participant’s ability to engage with the content. Offer alternative formats, such as large print materials, closed captions for videos, or sign language interpreters, to ensure all participants can fully engage with the training.

Since not all disabilities are visible, and even if they are, ensure that you ask the client beforehand if anyone has any access needs, and then keep your eyes and ears open to spot any difficulties of access – and adapt accordingly.

In addition, considering the diverse linguistic backgrounds of participants, incorporating language services, such as localisation or interpretation, can help make the training content accessible to everyone.

 

Assessments: Measuring progress and providing feedback

Ongoing assessments are crucial for monitoring participant progress and ensuring that the training content is effectively meeting their needs. Regular assessments, whether formal or informal, provide valuable feedback to both the trainer and the participant. This feedback can be used to tailor the training delivery, address any gaps in understanding, and reinforce learning.

Good practice ought to involve some form of on-going assessment during any training course. So, make sure you can test (formally or informally) progress and learning in any of your activities.

 

Participant-focused Approach: Prioritizing learner needs

As a trainer, it’s crucial to prioritize the needs of the participants over your personal preferences or preconceived notions about what works best. This means being adaptable and open to feedback, adjusting your training delivery as needed to meet the unique needs and learning preferences of each participant. By keeping the focus on the learner, you create a more engaging and effective training experience.

 

Engaging Activities: Stimulating interest and enhancing learning

Incorporating engaging activities into your training sessions not only keeps participants interested but also enhances their learning experience. Use a variety of techniques, such as interactive games, group discussions, and hands-on exercises, to create a dynamic learning environment that promotes active participation. Ensure that these activities are inclusive and allow for varying levels of ability, catering to the diverse needs of your participants.

All learners learn best if they are engaged. All the above points will help: the learner is more likely to be engaged if the activities are short, varied, relevant and meet their needs. Additional factors aiding engagement include:

  • Creating competitive teams (so long as each team can achieve success by hitting the required standard or target).
  • Creating intrigue and mystery; using a puzzle or problem to solve
  • It’s fun; it helps people smile and relax.
  • It’s new – something not experienced before.
  • Is safe and inclusive – no one feels left out or ‘at risk’ in the activity.

 

A checklist of training methods

To ensure an effective and engaging training program, it’s crucial to employ a variety of training methods that cater to different learning styles and preferences. By incorporating a diverse range of activities and techniques, you can create a more dynamic and interactive learning experience for your participants. Below is an expanded checklist of training methods, grouped into four main categories.

 

Providing Information

  1. Trainer input: The trainer presents information through lectures, presentations, or demonstrations, offering their expertise and insights on the topic.
  2. Video: Utilize video content, such as TED talks, YouTube videos, or other recorded materials, to share information or demonstrate concepts.
  3. Audio: Incorporate podcasts, audio recordings, or interviews to provide additional perspectives and insights on the subject matter.
  4. Reading: Assign articles, books, or other written materials for participants to read and gain a deeper understanding of the topic.
  5. Research: Encourage participants to conduct their own research, either individually or in groups, to explore the subject further and develop critical thinking skills.

 

Discussion

  1. Pairs: Organize participants into pairs for one-on-one discussions, allowing for focused conversations and relationship-building.
  2. Small groups: Divide participants into small groups to promote more in-depth discussions, idea-sharing, and problem-solving.
  3. Whole groups: Conduct large group discussions to foster a sense of community and encourage diverse perspectives and opinions.

 

Tasks

  1. Projects: Assign projects that require participants to apply their newly-acquired knowledge and skills to real-world scenarios or challenges.
  2. Case studies: Utilize case studies to provide participants with an opportunity to analyze real-life situations, identify issues, and propose solutions.
  3. Role play/simulations: Have participants engage in role-playing or simulation activities to practice new skills, explore different perspectives, and develop empathy.

 

Assessing

  1. Quizzes: Conduct quizzes to test participants’ knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, while providing immediate feedback on their performance.
  2. Random spot tests: Utilize random spot tests during the training to gauge participant engagement and retention of the material.
  3. Q&A sessions: Hold question-and-answer sessions to address participant questions, clarify concepts, and deepen understanding.
  4. Self-assessment questionnaires: Provide self-assessment tools for participants to evaluate their own learning and identify areas for improvement or further exploration.

By understanding and applying these principles in your training delivery, you can create a more engaging, effective, and inclusive learning experience that meets the needs of each participant and achieves the desired learning outcomes.

 

Author Bio

Arnie Skelton (MA, MSc)

CEO, Effective Training & Development Ltd

Arnie Skelton is a Cambridge University graduate, and the founder and CEO of Effective. Over the past 35 years, Arnie has provided professional development for individuals and businesses. He has achieved this through 1-1 coaching, courses, workshops, and ongoing consultancy, helping over 180 clients in the UK and abroad reach their full potential.

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