Bigger may not always be better unless logistics concerns (costs, timing, sense of urgency, etc.) call for large group organizational training. How can you ensure that your large group training is just as effective as a more intimate training event? Here are four things to keep in mind as you develop your company’s organizational training for large groups:
Choose the Right Method
When it comes to organizational training, one size most certainly doesn’t fit all. That’s why developing effective training for large groups starts with choosing the right training method. To ensure you choose the right method for your needs, some questions to consider include:
What kind of ROI do you expect to get out of this training?
- Whether it’s process improvements, culture transformation, or an actual dollar amount, knowing this will help you determine how much to invest in your large group training.
How many facilitators will you have on hand to assist with training?
- Having more facilitators means you may be able to break your large group into smaller groups, giving each attendee more individualized attention and chances to participate.
How much time can you commit to your large group training event?
- Aside from the size of your group, the time you have to devote to your training event may be the largest determining factor in regards to what shape your training takes.
In the past, have your participants “burned out” after a few hours, or have your previous large group training events presented other challenges?
- If past events seem to have bored attendees, it might be time to change up your training format to make it more exciting — like, for example, by introducing fun and engaging event themes.
Seek out training that can be tailored to your company’s specific needs, which includes factoring in what might work best for a large group size — and what has (or hasn’t) worked for you in the past. Choosing a tailored solution may require more investment up front, but it’ll pay off in more effective training that serves your company’s unique skill and group needs.
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Make Training Scalable
Trainers face an uphill battle in most training scenarios, as they try to wrangle participants and keep their attention for hours. The battle is intensified when trainers work with large groups! The opportunities for getting distracted are multiplied, and it’s simply a lot harder to facilitate meaningful conversation in a packed room.
Developing training that’s scalable to the size of the group, however, should help mitigate these training challenges. Design (or invest in) training that uses fun, interactive experiences to teach new skills, which often requires breaking larger groups into small teams for the ease of play. This way, participants get a small group, intimate feel, even if your actual training event numbers in the hundreds. Plus, breaking a larger group down into smaller teams also bypasses most of the hassle associated with sharing traditional training through a lecture or PowerPoint format — you don’t have to constantly check in to make sure your audience can hear and see you!
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
When working with large groups, it’s imperative that trained facilitators are thoroughly prepared. The chances that a training session gets derailed increases with more trainees, so having facilitators who know the material inside and out allows them to focus on creating an exceptional training experience, rather than how to simply “manage” the large group if things veer off track. Also, ensure you have enough facilitators to lead your entire group through the training since placing the training burden entirely on one or two individuals will lead to more stress and less learning. Trainees will naturally have questions throughout the training, so having enough facilitators on hand to answer questions without interrupting the entire training experience will ensure smooth sailing.
No matter the group size, effective organizational training sessions all have one thing in common: they incorporate experiential learning. Experiential learning involves designing immersive training activities that mimic the real-world, on-the-job scenarios that trainees encounter on a regular basis. The key, though, is that while experiential learning activities mimic these real-world scenarios, they don’t exactly mirror them. Experiential learning is not reenactment — experiential learning masks the similarities to the real world through fun themes, like a gold digging expedition through the jungle or a journey through the Wild West. Designing training scenarios this way gives trainees a safe space to take risks and learn from failure, which they might not feel comfortable doing in a training activity that looks exactly like a common on-the-job situation. Not to mention, theming your training events makes excitement more palpable, which is especially important when trying to rouse a large group!
Essentially, experiential training allows trainees to learn by doing since they practice the skills they just learned about during the training itself — rather than getting in practice after the training event (when learning decay has already started to impact their training recall). Plus, experiential learning necessitates that you break your large group into smaller teams, making large group training scalable. Through scalable experiential learning activities, each trainee will feel like his or her voice is heard, rather than just another number in the crowd.
If you’ve hosted large group training events in the past, what other strategies did you use to ensure your training was a success?
As Executive Vice President Global Performance, Paul has extensive experience in consultation, design, and delivery of programs over his 20 year career with Eagle’s Flight. Through his genuine personable approach, Paul is not only a trusted advisor but also a valued partner to his clients; he works seamlessly to ensure that Eagle’s Flight solutions are aligned to their needs and desired outcomes. As a result, Paul is the account executive for Eagle’s Flight largest account. Many of his clients are multi-year accounts from multinational, Fortune 500 companies.
Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.