Our tips for running an in-house training course

Written by Alan Black

We’ve been running copywriting workshops since Blackad began in 2002. Alan’s been at it since 1997. Here are a few gems that’ll help you design and deliver the perfect in-house course for your team.

The slides are not the hand-out

You’re presenting a course, not reading a bunch of bullet points from a screen. So make sure you have a separate hand-out with all the details your trainees will need. It’s OK to share a copy of the presentation too, but…

...Wait until the end to give out a copy of the slides

That way, you’ll keep the room’s attention right the way through. If you hand out the slides at the beginning, people will simply flip through your material. Horrible.

Before you put those slides together, read Garr Reynold's Presentation Zen. Or, at least, read our blog post on it.

Ditch frivolous warm-up exercises

Sure, get everyone to introduce themselves to the room. And yes, make sure you get everyone’s brains moving with a good icebreaker exercise – but make sure it’s completely relevant.

For example, if you’re training people on presentation skills, get them to write a three slide presentation on their favourite holiday. If it's a digital copywriting course, get the group to write Google AdWord copy to sell a second-hand car. Then revisit the exercise at the end of the session, with everyone applying the skills they’ve learned.

Catering's important

Don’t take ‘there’s no budget’ for an answer. Make sure everyone has a choice of water, tea and coffee – it sounds crazy, but we’ve had to endure courses where it wasn’t offered. Why on earth make your attendees feel hostile from the second they sit down?

If the course runs either side of lunchtime, make sure people know what to expect. Lunch not provided? Tell your attendees, and offer them a list of nearby options where they can grab a bite.

Some of our clients have banned biscuits in an effort to save money. That’s fine, but we make sure we pack a few contraband Tunnock's wafers into our presentation case. Snack-based bribery helps.

Mix it up

A bit of well-defined role play. Some solo tasks. ‘Shout-out-and-solve’ sessions with the responses going up on a flipchart. Group tasks where everyone needs to pull together. These are just a few examples of how you can keep your sessions moving along, without any risk of Irrelevant Exercise Syndrome.

Ask before

When we construct our private web copywriting courses, we always take a detailed brief from our clients. On top of that, we’ll review the current state of the client’s digital content. We survey the attendees as well, to find out which abilities they’d like to develop.

By asking the employer and the attendee – as well as dispassionately reviewing the current content – we make sure we know exactly what needs to be done.

Ask during

Don’t assume – tick off the basics, including making sure the temperature suits everyone. And be sure to ask if everyone can see and hear your presentation – people routinely forget to bring their glasses. Something as simple as changing seating arrangements or opening a window can make a huge difference.

Ask after

At Blackad, we always send our course attendees a little ‘how was it for you?’ online survey. And learned a few important lessons by studying the feedback.

The questionnaires also help you pick up on topics where attendees need more support. By asking the right questions, you can build the case for follow-up training or a drop-in clinic.

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