Here are the three things that come up regularly in participant evaluations:
1. Unclear instructions for activities – If at some point in the training, you’re pairing off or breaking into small groups for discussions (without a facilitator), you know to provide the instructions and repeat them three times. Inevitably someone will say, “Now what are we supposed to be doing?”
What can you do? Before you send everyone off to the small groups, ask someone from each group if they have questions about what they are supposed to be doing, provide a handout/instructions that is available in the breakouts. If you’re in Zoom, don’t rely on the main presentation materials—send a handout in advance, and make sure everyone has it handy.
2. Not enough time in the breakouts – There’s almost always feedback about the time in breakout or small group discussions being TOO SHORT. We humans like to talk, and the discussion time is NEVER enough. “We didn’t all get a chance to talk” or “We rushed through the last person.” Most of the time you leave them wanting more (or complaining that they were rushed).
What can you do? After you debrief the small-group discussions, ask everyone individually to reflect on one insight or one idea that came out of the discussions. Ask them to jot it down. It’s a simple step that helps them see value in the discussion they had, and think less about what was lacking or how they’d have preferred to have more time.
3. Too much content – If you skip over a section of content, if you provide a lot of back-up materials, or if you mention, “Let’s move through this part quickly,” it gives the perception that you’re managing your time poorly or you are cheating the group of some good content. Participants feel they are not getting the full experience.
What can you do? Create one main presentation with the content that’s essential, and that you’ll definitely make time for. Have additional slides at-the-ready in case you want to supplement the discussion with additional materials. Pull them out if there actually is time, and/or send the additional slides in a follow-up communication after the course. Avoid the chunky back-up section or appendix.
A lot of these “universals” are relevant to meeting planning and offsites as well.
L&D friends: What would you add to the list?