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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Turning your classroom training course into an online programme

September 10, 2015

More and more people are turning to the Internet for training opportunities.

Face to face courses are expensive, often in inconvenient locations, and at fixed times in the distant future that may not suit your requirements.

They survive because they're often very good. You get the opportunity for social interaction and discussion, key factors in creating knowledge and understanding, and it's a very engaging experience away from normal work so you can focus and get on with it ... but the drawbacks mean that sometimes an online option is better.

Online learning in quick and easy to access, cheap, flexible and covers a massive variety of topics.

In this episode I speak to Bogdan Vaida about how he has taken his training courses and put them online, creating a suite of learning opportunities and amassing thousands of students - and a steady income - in the process!


How to handle cultural diversity in the training room

August 25, 2015

Cultural diversity can be a real minefield. It's very easy to put your foot in it and say or do the wrong thing, making learners feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.

All of this cultural diversity business puts a host of precarious obstacles in your way. You want them to engage with the course and the other learners, you want them to enjoy the experience, and of course (most importantly) you want them to learn. They won't do this if they feel threatened, unsafe or insulted because of some avoidable mistake or miscommunication.

Sunita Sehmi is an experienced coach and trainer with years of experience of working in a multicultural environment. In this podcast she takes us through her methods and top tips for handling cultural diversity in the training room.


TT Shorts: The Clapping Exercise - an icebreaker that cures hair loss!

August 1, 2015

I didn't want to leave a big gap over summer, so I thought I'd chuck in another short podcast about a simple energiser, or icebreaker (it can be either, or both) that anyone can use on any course.

It's not just an icebreaker though, it also has positive health benefits (see here), including preventing hair loss! Something I wish I'd known about a few years ago.

Seema Sarawgi explains how she uses this and how it's a simple, fun and energetic way to start a training day.


An alternative to SMART objectives for behavioural stuff that’s hard to measure

July 25, 2015

It is a rare performance management training course that doesn't include the ubiquitous SMART acronym within it - and it is a rare organisation that doesn't demand its people create a yearly clutch of SMART objectives to meet the needs of their performance management process.

And that's the problem.

SMART objectives are often written to meet the needs of the process - not the people - they are written to fulfill the requirements of the clever acronym, but not actually to respond to the particular challenges of the individual job holder and their manager.

This is a long-running bugbear of mine, and it was good to hear that one of this podcast's great supporters and contributors, Garry Platt, had encountered exactly that problem during his consultancy work.

As good as they sometimes are, often it's just very difficult to write SMART objectives: it's not only hard to articulate the specific behaviour, it's next to impossible to create an appropriate measure that doesn't just tot up something numeric that's vaguely related (but not very important).

However, we're made of strong stuff on the Trainer Tools podcast, and just because something is difficult is no reason not to do it! So in this episode Garry talks me through his approach to what he calls behavioural objectives.

Trying to SMARTify your objectives need never ruin your life again!