5 Crucial Steps for Better Training and Development

Here are five crucial steps to help you improve your training and development programs.

Training and development programs are crucial for every organization. But if you want to see an ROI on the time and money you’ve put into these sessions, it’s essential to be sure your schedule and lesson plan is optimized for success. If students or trainees show up and leave without retaining any of the information, it’s unlikely that you’ll see tangible results from your efforts. So, you must make these training programs as fun and engaging as possible to ensure everyone retains the presented information.

Here are five crucial steps to help you improve your training and development programs.

Tie Intros and Icebreakers Into Your Goals

It’s essential that every aspect of the training ties into the program’s goals – starting with intros and icebreakers. The purpose of an icebreaker session is to loosen people up and set the tone for the rest of the training. So, it helps to tie the icebreaker into your program’s goals so that participants are already mentally primed for what’s to come by the time you start the training.

For instance, if the training is designed to foster more collaboration, start with an icebreaker that requires people to work together. Or, if the goal is to improve productivity, have them break into groups to discuss recent achievements and identify the elements that made those projects successful.

There are many ways you can achieve this goal, but the point is to introduce topics and ideas from the beginning that will reinforce the lessons taught later in the program.

Build Participation Into Every Module

Promoting participation throughout every training module ensures students or employees retain the necessary information. It’s been scientifically proven that active learning trumps passive absorption every time. People are much more likely to learn by talking rather than just listening, moving rather than sitting, and writing rather than reading. So, you must build these actions into every module to ensure everyone is alert and engaged.

There are many different ways that you can accomplish this goal. Answer boards, flashcards, Jeopardy games, and audience response systems are great tools to help improve participation.

Also, ensure that everyone can participate and answer questions, not just the fastest learners. You want to ensure the whole room is active and engaged, not just the most eager participants. So devising strategies to keep the entire room involved will go a long way toward helping everyone learn together.

Take Frequent Breaks

While it may seem counterintuitive, taking frequent breaks is a great way to ensure your training programs succeed. There’s only so long that the human brain can focus. No matter how fun or engaging your training sessions are, if you talk for too long, people’s eyes will begin to gloss over and start thinking about their dinner plans or the errands they have to run after work. So, scheduling frequent breaks is a great way to split up the information so it’s easier for people to retain.

There’s a psychological principle called the Zeigarnik effect, which states that the brain is naturally better at remembering the beginnings and endings of a presentation than the middle. Taking breaks throughout the session helps create a clear structure that will make it easier for participants to retain the information for longer.

Most people can’t focus for more than about 15 to 20 minutes. So, if you break modules up into 20-minute segments and allow for about five minutes in between for participants to take a break, you may be surprised by how much smoother the training progresses.

Play Games

Playing games is another great way to generate enthusiasm and excitement for your training and development program. Everyone loves to play games, no matter how old they are. It not only helps reinforce the information you’re presenting in the training session, but it also breaks up the monotony of the work week which will make participants excited about the program.

You can make these games as simple or elaborate as you want. You don’t have to invest in costly AI programming or interactive software with complex graphics. Something as simple as passing around a ball with questions written on it or coming up with Jeopardy-style questions can be just the thing to get everyone in the mood to learn.

It’s not only fun and exciting, but it also brings out people’s competitive nature in a fun and informative way. This ties back to the importance of keeping everyone active and participating in the discussion; games are a great way to foster engagement to ensure the presented information sticks in people’s heads. So, try making the training as fun and memorable as possible by creating games everyone in the office will love.

Debrief and Commit to Action

Finally, at the end of the program, debriefing and committing to action is essential. Learning should extend beyond the classroom and be implemented into regular practice.

True behavioral change relies on a debrief that shows students how the lessons and skills they’ve learned apply to real-world challenges. So, it’s important not to skip this step and use resources at the end of the class or even weeks later to reinforce the training lessons.

You can do this with postcards, sticky notes, reminder squeeze balls, or apps that send out reminders for students to remember what they’ve learned. Processing tools, Mnemonics, and visual metaphors are all great for accomplishing this goal.

If you commit to implementing these strategies into your training sessions, you’ll likely be surprised by how much more engaged and eager to learn your students, trainees, or employees will be.   

Tiffany Young
Tiffany Young is a freelance writer, content strategist, and former graduate assistant. She writes about the latest developments in teaching, public policy, standardized testing, and educational technology.