And 10 tips to avoid them…
MISTAKE #1: NOT SURVEYING THE PARTICIPANTS
SOLUTION #1: BE AWARE OF THEIR NEEDS
Too often, the needs of participants are evaluated in a purely instinctive rather than scientific process. With free online tools, such as Survey Monkey, which collects results, it is now easy to survey your members in order to offer them an adapted solution. This process allows you to identify the challenges the members of your organization face everyday, to validate the skills to develop, and to outline their daily problems. This exercise allows you to sharpen the needs of participants, according to a more scientific approach instead of a purely instinctive one.
It’s not about your instincts, but rather about their needs!
MISTAKE #2: WANTING TO BE ORIGINAL AT ALL COSTS
Solution #2: OFFERING A TARGETED TRAINING
You are lost amongst the infinite amount of training courses available to you?
Don’t forget that originality isn’t your main criteria. By trying too hard to reinvent the wheel, you risk choosing an inadequate topic.
A training course takes place over a limited time. It is thus wise to choose a very well documented one. Avoid falling for the mysticism with esoteric concepts too far fetched or original and eccentric theories which, while seductive, can make you lose the focus of your audience.
MISTAKE #3: BANK ON A SHALLOW EXPERT
Solution #3: WORK WITH AN EXPERIENCED TRAINER
In the world of training and conferences, many celebrities bank on their popularity to offer courses. While some of them bring forth quality content, other surf on corporate education to make a living.
It is thus very important to choose a trainer wisely and carefully, and to make sure they are experienced and credible, even if we’ve never seen them on television!
A teacher must have a good command of his material, and not transform his personal story into a branding strategy. A bad trainer can quickly damage your own credibility and reputation.
MISTAKE #4: FORGETTING TO CHECK THE CURRICULUM OF THE CHOSEN FIRM
Solution #4: ASK FOR (AND VERIFY) REFERENCES
Is the firm you chose praised by credible clients? Do clients trust the firm year after year? Are the contents firmly appreciated by the participants? Long ways, long lies… Not validating the credibility of your provider can cost you time and money.
Ask for evaluations of past courses or ask to read or, even better, to view conferences or testimonies. If a firm has existed for a long time but has very few clients, maybe there’s a reason.
MISTAKE #5: BANKING ON OLD SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT
Solution #5: MAKE SURE THE COURSES ARE UP TO DATE
Certain topics are timeless. Nonetheless, we live in a constantly evolving world. Make sure you don’t bet on obsolete content. Without falling for the trends trap, accumulated knowledge allows firms to present content that is pertinent and current, with overall synthesis skills that make all the difference. Be wary of dated managerial advice and focus on modern approaches, in harmony with the frame of mind of your participants.
MISTAKE #6: BASE YOUR CHOICE ON A MARKETING STRATEGY
Solution #6: TEST A PILOT TRAINING AND MEET THE TRAINERS
Have you ever been inspired by an exceptional teacher in your life? Ask yourself this question: “How would I evaluate that person’s presence with a pamphlet?”
Once you’ve briefly filtered through your possible providers, take the time to test pilot training courses and to meet the trainers in person. Life-skills and communication skills play a large role in education. Do not limit yourself to course plans and pamphlets because you risk evaluating the marketing strategy and the branding instead of evaluating educational strength. Investing time in meetings and demonstrations is profitable.
MISTAKE #7: CUTTING CORNERS IN LOGISTICS
Solution #7: LOOK AFTER SOLID ORGANIZATION
Many deciders wait to the last minute to organize logistical details. Have you thought of food? Of the computers? Of the sound system? Of software? The presenter’s computer only has an HDMI output and your screen only has a VGA port? A good tip is to ask yourself: “What can I potentially forget?”
Take the time to prepare your logistics like an attentive host. An overheated room will tire your participants, just like a huge portion of lasagna with bread at lunch will. Roll the simulation in your head to avoid having your members fight against sleep when they’re being paid to learn. Also think of parking, of directions to give employees, etc.
Visualize the event step by step and write a list of points to check and confirm.
MISTAKE #8: NEGLECTING YOUR LIST OF TALKING POINTS
Solution #8: INSURE INTERNAL COMMUNICATION
Your members are possibly short on time, so it’s important to present the importance of the activity.
The most frequent mistake is to bank on an email filled with text and with the course outline as an attached file; people don’t read it or promise themselves to go back to it later.
Your date is approaching and you need to run after registrations. You send more emails referencing the previous emails, and now people are looking for the previous emails, in short… what a chore! Ask the firm you’ve chosen to give you communication and promotion tools. They’re used to selling their products.
Short online videos are ideal; they give an overview of the content and allow your members to evaluate the relevance of dedicating it their time.
Show what is to gain by investing the required time instead of focusing on the time spent (one day, half a day, etc.)
You can make that information mandatory, but there’s nothing like a course informed people are eagerly waiting for. Basic respect is to inform them properly. A video clip still remains an efficient tool.
MISTAKE #9: NEGLECTING TO MEASURE YOUR GAINS
Solution #9: VERIFY THE IMPACT OF THE COURSE
Too many deciders buy, organize, and wait for the next budget to take up their thought process again.
Questions coming back: “Is it worth it? Did people apply the teachings? What to do this year? …”
Ideally, you should survey your participants the day of the services provided. Their memory is fresh.
In addition, you could survey them again three and six months later. This way, you can validate the long term repercussions. Ask your educational firm to help you measure the impact of the training courses.
You will discover that little integration coaching sessions or follow-up webinars make a massive difference between knowledge left to sleep in a manual and fully integration knowledge that generates results. It’s proven that everything we measure tends to improve.
MISTAKE #10: BANKING ON AN ECCENTRIC FIRM
Solution #10: BANKING ON HUMBLE FIRMS AND TRAINERS
Teaching is a mission.
Too many trainers, speakers, or coaches choose this profession to show off and look good.
Study their marketing strategy; is it about them or about you? Does the service provider want to show his path and his experience or help YOU perform better? The number of speakers and trainers abound but what is their message? True masters of a subject or a discipline who chose to teach do so in the spirit of sharing and contributing.
It’s an excellent question to ask in your evaluations: “Did the teacher hold your comprehension to heart?”