How to Run a Training Session Badly

How to Run a Training Session Badly

Eight steps to ensure the attendees on your course don’t have a great experience.

Following on in my occasional series of ‘How to do something, badly’ I recently had the displeasure of attending a training course where a succession of essential steps were missed.

Follow this guide to make your next training session a miserable experience for the attendees.

  1. Introductions. Don’t allow attendees to tell you their names. Creating personal bonds between trainers and attendees will only lead to trust, engaging conversations and discussions where the attendees feel comfortable being curious and can then learn more.
  2. Introductions. Don’t allow attendees on the course to tell you about their experience of the particular subject. Being completely ignorant of who you’re stood in front of means you can pitch the content way off the mark. You can then also miss great opportunities during the session for getting attendees to share their experience and deepen the learning for all.
  3. Introductions. The longer an attendee stays quiet the longer they will stay quiet. There is a relationship curve between how soon an attendee speaks in front of a group and their confidence in raising their voice again i.e. the sooner they speak the more confidence they will have in asking further questions. Keep them quiet as long as possible.
  4. Agenda. Don’t introduce the structure of the session. If you tell the attendees the structure of the session they will be able to create a framework in their mind to order the information and then make it easily accessible in the future. This is called Thematic Learning. Imagine creating a clothes rail in a virtual cupboard, the clothes rail is the structure that allows you to hang your clothes in an order that makes them easy to find, shirts to jumpers to trousers. An agenda at the start of a training session allows people to create that clothes rail.
  5. Patronise the attendees. As a trainer you clearly know more than the attendees and because you didn’t allow them to introduce themselves you have no idea of previously acquired experience so use a patronising tone of voice. Be surprised when the attendees show levels of competence.
  6. Allow extended debates and questions that divert from the agenda. If you’ve not allowed the group to introduce themselves, see 1, 2 and 3, you may be able to avoid questions and discussion but some will slip through. Then it’s your chance to indulge these outlier questions. Don’t sidestep them while placating the questioner by saying ‘that’s an interesting point, let’s have a chat over lunch about that’.
  7. Blame the attendees for falling behind the timeframe. As the trainer you’re responsible for ensuring the training is delivered during the set time period. No-one else is in charge of this. But blame the attendees for falling behind the timings anyway. This works particularly well if you’ve not done items 4 and 6 above. If the group has no expectation of where they should be on the agenda by a given time and discussions have not been managed then blame the group. The icing on the cake is if you’ve peppered the session with unnecessary anecdotes.
  8. Don’t define the training roles. When you’re delivering training as a double act don’t define those roles. Having one lead trainer and one supporter can lead to the group having a clear idea of roles and understanding who to direct questions at. Undermine each other and branch off in different directions to unsettle the attendees.

Follow the above rules and you can really undermine quality learning. Never forget, the attendees are paying you to learn so undermine that wherever possible.

What’s stopped a good learning experience for you recently?

More in the ‘How to do something, badly’ series:

How to do Twitter, badly

How to do email updates, badly