A (free!!) form to investigate the effectiveness of your presentation design


Last week I had an opportunity to co-facilitate a webinar for the Early Childhood Investigations webinar series. The focus, of course, was on presentation design.

One of the key points I made, late in the webinar, was how to increase the likelihood that your learners will transfer what they learn from your presentation into their own work flow when they return home. A key piece to this transfer is finding a way to engage your learners’ supervisors.

What are we, as presenters, to do when we don’t have access to the learners’ supervisors?   Continue reading

Cool Study Tool: A Brief Review of Quizlet

I was working with a team last week to push forward a sales training program that I was helping them develop. At one point, a sales team member asked: Have you ever used Quizlet?

No, I hadn’t.

She pulled out her phone and showed me how she quickly created a series of flashcards to help her study terminology she’d need in order to sound intelligent and informed during her sales calls.


The flashcards were basic – nothing flashy – but they could be used by someone sitting in front of a computer (via the desktop version) or someone who was on the road (via the free app). I was intrigued.   Continue reading

A Clickable Table of Contents May Be the Best Performance Support Solution

MS Word

Last week I was brainstorming performance support ideas with a colleague. She shared how her team needed to be able to easily find information quickly when speaking on the phone with a variety of audiences. This wasn’t just for some information, her team needed to be able to quickly access bits and pieces of information from an enormous catalog of ways to address concerns of the people with whom they interacted.

Was there a way to get our learning management system to do this? Or perhaps there was a way to do this through a complex series of variables created in Storyline?

I thought for a moment.

“Why not do it in a Word document?” I asked.  Continue reading

Job Aids can come in all Shapes and Sizes

Two weeks ago I was asked to deliver the keynote speech for the Desert Produce Safety Collaboration Conference. This was a group of people who are responsible for keeping the food that goes onto your dinner table safe and healthy. Making sure they and the people they work with are well-trained and well-equipped to do their jobs is kind of important.

I certainly talked about standard elements to more effective training programs – incorporating principles of adult learning, identifying clear objectives and the like. But in speaking with the conference organizer about some of the challenges this audience faces – only having 15 minutes at the beginning of the day, needing to train people in English and Spanish, having a new group of workers in the fields every day that may or may not have received earlier training – I realized I was going to need to go beyond traditional instructional design basics.  Continue reading

Which Would You Prefer: Noise Pollution or Performance Support?

As I was waiting for my luggage to appear at the baggage claim in Delhi last week, a colleague pointed this sign out to me:

Silent Airport

In a place where honking drivers navigate their way through the crowded streets seemingly by echolocation and sensory overload in sights, sounds, tastes and smells is everywhere, the airport did indeed seem oddly quiet.

If you can’t make out the fine print at the bottom of the screen, it says: “To know the status of your flight, please check the flight information display at various locations.”

It was brilliant. Someone at the airport must have decided that the “training” they were offering – a constant stream of announcements over the PA system – was ineffective. They also must have determined that passengers were probably smart enough that, if pointed in the right direction with good signage, they’d be able to find what they needed.

Continue reading

Training without a Trainer (Part 2)

When someone can learn how to do something without having to complete a training course, it saves them time. It saves you time. Everyone is happy. Unless it’s done poorly. Then it’s just frustrating.

Last week I wrote about how our IT guy devised a way to reduce the amount of “help” calls and emails he received simply by putting two photos on the LCD projector in our conference room. It turns out, this idea was actually the brainchild of our office manager, not our IT guy – this goes to show that learning can come from anyone and happen anywhere. It goes back to the idea that 70% of learning doesn’t happen through a training course or an elearning course or even through conversations with a manager or mentor… it happens on the job.

And this sort of “on the job training” can be all around us – at work and in life in general. This past weekend I went Christmas shopping with my 3 year old son and when I went to pay for parking, I used this machine:

Training without a Trainer (2)

You put the ticket for parking in the slot with the arrows, and you put it in so that the metallic strip is up and on the right side. All of these instructions are very visual and easy to read.

Then I had to pay. As long as you can read English, you’ll know from the big letters at the top of the machine that this machine only takes credit cards. The visual images of the cards along the right side of the machine also helps make this point.

I stuck my credit card in the slot, and the machine, after seeming to chew on it for a few seconds, spit my card out and told me it wasn’t readable. So I tried inserting it another way. More chewing, then the card was again ejected with the same message. As the line of Christmas shoppers queued up behind me, waiting less and less patiently for their turn, and as my 3-year-old kept running away from me and toward an open elevator door as I tried to figure this machine out, my embarassment (and frsutration) began to mount.

Then I looked for some sort of fine print on the machine. Perhaps you can find it too. Along the right side of the machine. Underneath where it says “Credit Card”. I realized I had to slide my card into the machine upside down.

Todd Hudson, Head Maverick at the Maverick Institute, recently wrote about this with several other examples of creating everything to be visual, intuitive and obvious. Perhaps the way I should have slipped my credit card into the machine should have been obvious, since the parking ticket needed to be inserted with the metallic strip facing up. But I’m just used to sliding a credit card through a machine with the logo side up, anything else seems counter-intuitive to me.

Herein is the lesson for anyone who wants to design effective job aids: job aids need to be designed to be as fool-proof as possible because you never know when someone like me will come along and not be interested in reading the fine print.

Training the Trainer: Five Job Aid Ideas for Post-training Action

Recently, I asked the question: what do they talk about after your presentation? Perhaps a more important question is: what will they do differently as a result of your presentation?  Below, you’ll find five ideas for job aids that could help increase the possibility that your learners will put your concepts into action once they return to their respective offices.

Job Aid #1: Action Plans

Many training programs end with some sort of call to action, often in the form of an action plan in which you commit to specific ways you will apply what you’ve learned when you return to your office.  Trainers can take this idea one step further by printing the action plan on 2-ply carbonless NCR paper.  This way the learner can keep one copy of the action plan and a carbon(less) copy can be given to the learner’s supervisor.  One additional variation on this idea is to put the second copy in an envelope and mail it to the learners 45-60 days after the training as a reminder of their personal commitments.

Job Aid #2: Checklists

Pilots use them to be extra sure the plane won’t crash because they forgot to do something.  Surgeons use them to be extra sure they haven’t left a sponge inside of you. Atul Gawande wrote an entire book about them.  A checklist is a simple job aid that can remind your learners of the correct way to do what you’ve taught them, again and again in the days, months and years following your workshop.  Here is an example of a training lesson plan design checklist that participants can use following a train the trainer session.

02212013 - 5 Post Training Tools (Checklist)

Job Aid #3: Web Site Referrals

One of the best conference workshops I’ve ever attended was at the 2011 ASTD TechKnowledge Conference.  The focus was on “engaging webinars” and the presenter spoke of the absolute need to create PowerPoint presentations that are more visually attractive and attention grabbing than the templates and clipart that come pre-loaded.  She provided a handout with websites for free and low cost PowerPoint templates and sources of clipart.  Here is one site for free clipart that she listed in her handout.  Tom Kuhlman’s Rapid Elearning Blog is another amazing resource that offers gobs of free templates.

Job Aid #4: Cards

My colleagues provide learners with a small card that can fit on your keychain.  The card has specific steps they want their learners to remember.  A few months ago I attended a coaching class and the facilitator provided all of the learners with a pocket-sized card of specific coaching steps.  It also has key questions to ask during a coaching conversation.

Job Aid #5: 1-page Summary of Key Points

My cubicle wall is adorned with two documents.  A 1-page summary of the key points from the book Switch, and a 1-page summary of the key points from the book Made to Stick.  I read these books a while ago, but it’s very easy to take a glance at these 1-pagers that I downloaded from the authors’ website and to remind myself of these concepts when I’m trying to troubleshoot issues I’m having with change management (the focus of Switch) or when I’m trying to add some stickiness to a lesson plan (the focus of Made to Stick).

Sending your learners away with a simple yet tangible souvenir to remember your session, and more importantly your concepts, is an essential element to ensuring your content will have legs long after your learners have left the training room.

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