In nonprofit, people joke that we’re all prone to multiple hat syndrome: instances when we’re asked to do things that fall way outside of our job description. Delivering a staff training is definitely one of those things.
This summer, I was tasked with getting my team up to speed on Salesforce. While I’ve played a big role in the CRM implementation, training others is a WHOLE different ball game.
That’s because sharing knowledge with others is a tricky dance, even when you’re an expert on the material. But that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless: you can deliver a powerful staff training, even if you’re not actually a trained trainer.
Check out these 10 training tips for any staff person who’s rocking the trainer hat at their org right now!
10 Tips to Deliver An Awesome Staff Training
1. Outline your entire agenda beforehand.
What are the critical buckets of information that people need to learn? Is there a sequence that is most effective for absorbing the information? Use these answers to put together a learning agenda that will make sense to your staff. By sitting down and sketching out the areas where people need to learn, you can create a logical flow of session topics. Don’t just wing it!
2. Figure out how much time it will take to learn AND explain all the information.
Determine what the time investment should look like on both sides. You don’t want to fly through your topics faster than staff can take in, but you also don’t want to exhaust them by going too long!
Striking the right balance will be based on the density of the information you need to share, and the availability (both mentally and physically) of your staff.
3. Space out your topics in a way that makes sense.
Some trainings may only require an hour. Others might need to happen over the course of a few days. When plotting out your agenda, consider the quantity of information that you have to share, the level of complexity, and your own capacity to communicate it all.
In my case, I decided to devote one hour per day over the course of the week to training. This way we could dive deep on specific topics, but do so in bite-size chunks.
4. Play to the habits of your audience.
Work in a place long enough and you eventually pick up on the nuances surrounding that culture. Do people check their phones when they’re pulled into meetings? Include breaks for them to step away, emphasizing that you need their full attention in-between. Is your office big on memes and GIFS? Sprinkle a few of those in your presentation for fun. Do people get competitive once in awhile? Come up with a game that will tie in their learnings and get them pumped!
Anything you can do to meet people where they’re at is always appreciated.
*Tip:* Sometimes, a simple treat can bring up the mood. When in doubt, bring donuts.
5. Spend time on your visuals.
It’s easy to throw words onto a Powerpoint. But presentations do much better when there’s minimal text, clear screenshots, and other graphics that build on whatever it is you’re planning to say. And guess what? It takes time to put something that good together!
*Tip:* I once read that fonts in a slideshow should be no less than 30pt. So that’s the rule I’ve been sticking with.
6. Find ways to make it more engaging.
It’s tough to sit still for an hour, listening to someone talk at you. (For us introverts, it’s also tough to be that person talking endlessly.) Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the only way to get your point across. Use videos, stories and other interactive elements to keep the attention of your audience!
For my CRM training, I broke up my monologues with mini-exercises that required staff to use our new system. It gave them space to immediately act on what they’d just learned, and reaffirmed for me that the information made sense to them!
7. See what else is already out there.
Why re-invent the wheel if you don’t have to? If learning materials already exist elsewhere for your training topic, you might as well see how much of that can be reworked! Even if your training is super specific to your org, doing that research can give you ideas on the best way to organize and deliver your training.
8. Gather feedback from staff on what would be helpful.
All trainings have a baseline of information that gets communicated to the group. But you can still get a sense of where people stand on a topic, and use that to make better training decisions! Get a pulse on what people are looking forward to when it comes to this new system/process and what they’re uncertain about.
As you go through the agenda, these tidbits will dictate where it makes sense to spend more time.
9. Brush up on your public speaking.
Not too long ago, the thought of public speaking would make me sick to my stomach. For everyone who feels this way, the only way to get over it….is to speak in public! Staff trainings are a great exercise for this, but it also helps to formally brush up on this skill beforehand. Take a class, sign up for a workshop, or even watch a youtube video for free.
- *Tip:* When I used to get super nervous, I’d force myself to practice…and record myself doing it. Painful? Yes, but also reassuring to know that I had everything down to the tee.
10. From beginning to end, practice an audience-first mindset.
When you don’t train others regularly, the hardest thing to remember is to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. As long as you remember who you’re talking to when you’re explaining things, you’ll position yourself to deliver a training that sticks the landing.
So if you’re communicating technical information to a non-technical audience, how do you make the information as simple as possible? If staff are driven by the mission of your organization, can you find ways to tie that into the training (otherwise known as explaining the “why”)? And ultimately, how can you communicate the value of this to their work?
Staff training may not be an official part of your job description, but it’s a great way to hone your presentation skills and bring others into the fold of your work!
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What are your tips for hosting a training?