Effective Presentation Design: Evaluation Tool

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

Ensuring Transfer

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 workflow when they return home. A key piece of 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

Make End-of-Training Action Plans Obsolete

Transfer of training: the Holy Grail for training professionals. So how do we get there?

Traditional training design includes a rockin’ presentation followed by an action plan and finally an evaluation form.

I’ve been reading a lot of Will Thalheimer’s blog lately. If you’re a training professional and you’re not familiar with Dr. Thalheimer’s work, you ought to be. He’s dedicated to the integration of evidence- and research-based training methods while de-bunking models, theories and traditional practices that fly in the face of scientific research (such as Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of evaluation).

Recently, he wrote about building a better action plan. He calls it “triggered action planning”, and he cites research that suggests this method may “double the likelihood that our learners actually apply what they’ve learned.” Double the likelihood that learners will apply what they’ve learned! Not too shabby.

When I shared this idea with a co-worker, she told me that she liked this idea… though she didn’t like this idea as much as the idea of eliminating the action plan altogether. She asked: why not send our trainees on their way with a work product they’ll be able to use as soon as they get back to their offices?

She reminded me of our organization’s Presentation Skills training. We don’t ask the participants to complete an action plan, we ask them to put everything they learned during the day’s session together in order to craft a lesson plan they’ll be able to use when they return to their offices.

The traditional action plan is well-intentioned, but not very effective. With the Triggered Action Plan, Will Thalheimer has built a much better and potentially more effective mouse trap. Giving your learners an opportunity to build something they’ll use as soon as they get back to the office, well, that might just be the key to ensuring new skills are transferred directly onto the job.

Interested in a transfer of training case study? Read this: Transfer of Training: A Case Study

Transfer of Training: A Case Study

I had an opportunity to attend a day-long training session called Hiring Winners which was delivered by a facilitator from Washington Employers. And over the next month, an amazing thing happened. I found that I was immediately using concepts and skills developed during this session. Following is a brief description of how this course seems to have hit upon the Holy Grail of training and development: actual skills transfer from the training room to everyday practice.

The Situation

Working for a rapidly growing organization, our HR team offered the opportunity for hiring managers to spend a day focused on our recruiting and hiring skills. This presented two immediate benefits:

1)      general professional development on an immediate need, and

2)      development of a common, organization-wide experience and language when it comes to recruiting and hiring as we go forward

The Training

Every participant was given a manual as the day started and we spent the day working our way through the manual. The course design included lecture, small group activities, large group discussions and role-plays.

The Transfer of the Training

Probably the most essential element of the session was a series of small group activities in which we were asked to develop a hiring plan and to develop behavior-based interview questions for an actual job for which we would soon be recruiting and hiring. The real-life nature of this activity and opportunity to leave the workshop with an actual plan that could be implemented right away led me to use these tools the following week.

A colleague of mine from India happened to be in town when this course was offered and brought some of her key learnings back to share with our co-workers in New Delhi. Immediately upon her return, she led a 60-minute session in the Delhi office to share highlights and to begin finding ways to transfer the lessons for our India-based context. The team then decided on and implemented several improvements to our ongoing hiring process in India. The team will have a longer session to discuss key concepts from this course after the new year.

What made this Course Sticky?

When so many other courses and workshop manuals simply gather dust on someone’s desk or bookshelf, what made this course achieve transfer of training?

There were several key factors that led to the immediate application and transfer of skills from our training room to our day-to-day routine.

Supervisor Support

My supervisor also attended this session and asked our team to begin using these new skills. He also set the expectation that lessons learned would be shared with other team members – both in the US and in India – who were unable to attend this session.

Immediacy

In espousing his theory on how adults learn best, Malcolm Knowles insisted that adult learners thrive when the education they receive can solve an immediate problem. As our organization (and more specifically, as my team) grows, we’re using hiring skills every day. This course allowed us an opportunity to re-visit our current process and make improvements in the moment during the actual training session. And with interviews already on my Outlook calendar, this was the perfect time to develop more effective interview questions.

Facilitation and Course Design

The facilitator was prepared, had obviously given this presentation in the past, provided a smooth delivery, and offered plenty of time for small and large group discussions. She delivered a course that was designed to offer three things that were of immense value to us: new content, a forum for staff from across the entire organization to discuss issues and align on processes, and an opportunity to either revise or create new ways to recruit and hire top-notch candidates.

Will our organization realize the return on the investment we were seeking when we brought Washington Employers in to facilitate this workshop? It’s too early to tell. But if an early indicator is whether or not people actually use the skills they learned in the training room, then we seem to be off to an unusually good start.

Know someone who could use some help designing learning experiences that will transfer of training from the training room into the real world? Get in touch with us.

Transfer of Training Template

Are you headed off to a conference?  Or perhaps you’re a supervisor who’s sent a staff member to a workshop.  The following, simple graphic organizer is designed to assist you (or your direct report) in transferring the learning from the classroom to the workplace.

04242013 - Template

This is how I used the template when I recently attended the SHRM Talent Management conference.

04242013 - Sample

Obviously, this is just a template.  You may want to modify it, take something out, or perhaps add an additional field (maybe adding a field to the top such as:  “What I want to take away from this session”).

The key is to keep it simple.  Put too many fields in and it becomes tedious to fill out.  Remove too many fields and it may not be useful in transferring the learning to the realities of the workspace.

Give it a whirl (or if you’re a manager, give it to a direct report that will be attending a training session), see if this simple tool can help increase the return you realize the next time you invest in professional development.

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