Do we plan too much? The role of improvisation in training delivery

April 15, 2016

I am not the world's best at planning, and probably wouldn't rank very highly at following a plan either.

I've often felt that this was a weakness - I know it's also a strength (I am good at thinking on my feet and coping with change), but it's also true that it mightn't be such a bad thing to plan ahead and perhaps stick to a schedule every now and again ... so, when Paul Levy proposed talking about the role of improvisation in training delivery, I was rather excited!

In this podcast he talks through his approach to improvisation, what it means, how we can develop the skills, and his own examples of improvised activities that have worked well, and - because it's in my nature to ask - times when it hasn't worked so well!

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How to create an effective training evaluation strategy

March 15, 2016

Evaluation is the most neglected part of the L&D cycle.

My guess is that this is because most people in L&D prefer to be in training rooms or designing workshops, or creating transformational strategies to allow individuals and organisations to reach their potential ... I'm getting carried away now ... the point is that few of us get excited about the subject of evaluation.

Merle Van Der Voorde was no exception, and wasn't exactly thrilled when asked to deliver an evaluation project for the various learning and development courses, programmes and other activities on offer.

However, like most things, the more you know about them, the more interesting they become and in this podcast Merle shares the strategy and approach she used, and talks through some examples from her organisation.

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How to write your own stories and use storytelling for teambuilding

February 15, 2016

Stories are the oldest and best way of passing on information in an engaging and memorable way.

They are a key tool in learning, and a nice break from PowerPoint and flip charts, and they can be used to make things easier to remember, to raise a particular issue for discussion, to challenge the way people think, and to make learning easier to transfer back to the workplace.

We don't need to rely solely on real things that have happened either - although real life stories are really good - we can write our own stories too. Sometimes this might be because we don't know a relevant true story, but often there is value in an obviously fictional account - think how much we call on famous fictional situations as real-life metaphors now: everything from Shakespeare and Star Wars to Monty Python. Fictional stories can be used to illustrate ideas in a meaningful way that everyone understands.

In this podcast I talk to Samantha Mathis about her use of stories and how to write your own stories for training courses and other learning events. She also talks about using storytelling as a powerful teambuilding activity, allowing teams to raise and discuss issues in a fun and engaging way.

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Five secrets of accelerated learning (part two)

January 15, 2016

Accelerated learning is a term that is oft heard, but not oft understood, and even less oft applied effectively.

It's not just about playing some music, putting a load of fiddly toys out, and then forcing delegates to flip chart stuff for hours, there's more to it than that.

In this episode, I talk to accelerate learning expert Krystyna Gadd about her five secrets of accelerated learning: five areas that need to be considered to ensure that a learning event takes full advantage of all the benefits that accelerated learning can bring.

The only problem is that we went on too long, so I decided not to inflict an hour-long podcast on the poor listener, and instead split it into two halves.

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Five secrets of accelerated learning (part one)

January 15, 2016

Accelerated learning is a term that is oft heard, but not oft understood, and even less oft applied effectively.

It's not just about playing some music, putting a load of fiddly toys out, and then forcing delegates to flip chart stuff for hours, there's more to it than that.

In this episode, I talk to accelerate learning expert Krystyna Gadd about her five secrets of accelerated learning: five areas that need to be considered to ensure that a learning event takes full advantage of all the benefits that accelerated learning can bring.

The only problem is that we went on too long, so I decided not to inflict an hour-long podcast on the poor listener, and instead split it into two halves.

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Using social networks to reinforce learning

December 15, 2015

With so much great content available freely online, why would anyone bother paying for a training course? It's almost like people can go round learning stuff, willy-nilly, without us learning professionals getting involved at all!

Obviously that would never do, so what can we do to rise to the challenge of technology?

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Larry Reynolds about his ideas for the future of the training facilitator, including his experimental use of social networks and online communities to help reinforce learning.

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TT Shorts: The Paper Tower: a quick and simple teambuilding tool

November 28, 2015

In this short extra episode of the Trainer Tools podcast series, I talk to Seema Sarawgi about a simple but effective technique she uses in teambuilding events.

The Paper Tower is very simple to prepare for and run, and can be used as a quick way to get people talking and moving about, or to develop deeper learning around teamwork, planning, communication and leadership in the context of the organisation.

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How to run an activity based assertiveness workshop

November 15, 2015

Some things come up again and again in learning needs analyses, whatever the organisation, whatever the circumstances, and "assertiveness skills" (or something similar) is one of those things.

It crops up in the middle of loads of different structured training courses, it forms part of many coaching relationships, even pops up on teambuilding workshops from time to time. It seems like many of us human beings just aren't naturally that great at being assertive in a positive way, we tend to be either naturally passive or naturally aggressive, and struggle to calibrate assertiveness correctly.

In this episode, Kevin Stephens talks us through his approach to running an assertiveness workshop. As always with Kevin, it's a very practical and active approach that I hope has some good ideas for others facing the same learner needs.

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Practical approach to fun and effective teambuilding events

October 15, 2015

Many managers are keen to create great teams, and there's no better way to do this than ask someone from the training department to come along and deliver a teambuilding day!

This is true of internal and external training providers equally, and although a teambuilding session can be truly effective and a lot of fun, it can also be an enjoyable waste of time, or even a total disaster.

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Paul Tizzard, author of The Teambuilding Pocketbook, about his approach to teambuilding events and how to make sure they are valuable, effective and fun.

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What does it mean to be a great training facilitator

September 25, 2015

Most of us working in learning and development get involved in training delivery. This usually involves a bit of teaching and a lot of facilitation.

We work this out over many years. Maybe we start by giving PowerPoint lectures, and only over time, as we learn more about our craft and gain in confidence, are we able to take a step back and focus on the process and a lot less on the content of training sessions.

This is facilitation: the management of the process that allows learning and understanding to emerge from discussion, activity and feedback.

I've been doing this for years, and I think I'm pretty good at it - but like many other trainers (or facilitators), I have no theoretical foundation to understand what I'm doing or how I could do it even better.

In this discussion with Nick Eve, he explains the theory that underpins great facilitation, and shows how this leads to effective facilitation behaviours.

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