The previous article discussed how a trainer plans an effective training programme and starts a class. Today, we look at the different training methods available.

When designing a training programme, consider the manner in which information is conveyed to the participants. The correct method will make participants more receptive and leave a lasting impression after the programme is completed.

Employ a variety of methods. It increases the attention span.

Three modalities you can use as a trainer are:

1. Auditory communication: lectures, discussion, facilitation, fireside chats

2. Kinesthetic demonstration: rehearsals, presentations, modelling, role play

3. Practice: letter writing, computer software programs, safety regulations

Any training course should include one or more of the above methods to convey information.

Lectures

Lectures are the most common method of training. The trainer talks about a topic and participants are expected to absorb the information they hear. It is passive since there is no or little involvement with the participants.

Another disadvantage is that the amount of knowledge a trainer has is not equivalent to his ability to present it well.

If you use the lecture format, use it for a subject the audience can identify with and get them involved to prevent the session from degenerating into a monologue.

Check your participants' level of knowledge and ability to understand you and your accent. Structure your lecture in a logical fashion so that participants can understand and retain the information.

The golden rules of giving lectures are:

1. Tell the participants what you are going to talk about

2. Deliver your lecture.

3. Summarise the main points of your lecture.

Keep your lecture short - no longer than 45 minutes, which is the maximum attention span of most participants. Try to vary your style and pace. Lectures are ideal for big groups.

Use affirmative phrases like "Many of you will find this interesting". Negative phrases such as "You may not understand this" will promote negativity among the participants. Use rhetorical questions, like "Don't you wish you could plan your career better?" to reinforce the benefits of the training course to your audience.

Role play

Participants take positions in typical scenarios in the corporate environment (for example, manager and subordinate) and then act out the desired behaviours for each situation.

Make the scenario as realistic as possible. Position role play sessions towards the middle of the course when participants are more confident, having overcome any fears they harboured initially.

There are many advantages to role playing. Firstly, it is memorable and enjoyable. It mirrors how participants would react in real life, and therefore has direct relevance to them. The only difference is they can act it out in the workshop with no or little risk.

Be sure to explain the objectives clearly. Otherwise, participants may think that the better their acting, the more others laugh, the better they are. Role play is useful when covering topics like negotiation, counselling, conflict resolution, interviewing, performance appraisals and selling.

Case studies

A case study is a corporate story based on a real or imaginary situation. You ask participants to diagnose a particular problem and recommend ways of resolving the problem. Next, you ask them why they have taken a particular course of action and the implications it may have.

Case studies inject realism to the course and offset the theoretical part of the workshop. It allows participants to discuss the issue in a detached way - no real emotions are involved and there is little pressure. It also encourages communication between participants.

The downside is that it may be simplistic - in a real corporate environment, there is a lot of pressure to react quickly. Case studies are useful in negotiation, decision-making and problem-solving.

Discussion

Discussion is a free exchange of ideas and opinions. It is limited to one aspect of a particular topic. Before any discussion can take place, it requires participants to have some knowledge.

As the trainer, you must create the right environment - relaxed and uninhibited. Limit the number of participants so that there is ample eye contact, a key criterion to the success of a discussion.

Start by asking an opening question which encourages debate without putting participants on the defensive. When comments are ambiguous, ask participants for clarification. Your role is to be the moderator: Ensure points are relevant and that the discussion does not go off on a tangent.

By using these training tools, you can lead participants through a fruitful journey of learning and discovery, in which they obtain their learning objectives and you meet yours as an effective, empathetic trainer.