How to Write Effective Training Materials
Being able to share your knowledge and skills effectively with colleagues is becoming an essential part of many job roles. Major training objectives may be met by your company’s training department, or outsourced to a professional company. However, for ad hoc ‘on-the-job’ training, especially concerning newer members of staff, the task often falls to those who already know the job well.
As a manager, being able to create effective training materials is a key skill which shouldn’t be overlooked. Training materials form a lasting bank of knowledge that can be referenced in the future, as well as used by other members of staff to deliver future training requirements.
But writing effective training materials that are easy to follow and provide the necessary level of skill and knowledge, isn’t always as simple as just putting pen to paper. Training is a specialised field. Formatting the knowledge you need to impart correctly ensures that your learners fully meet their objectives. It also enables you to save time and staff hours in correcting problems in the future, caused by poor training or insufficient uptake of that training.
Illumine are a professional training provider. We’ve been providing innovative training courses that are specifically designed to deliver the training objectives in the most effective way, for many years. We understand that to deliver effective training, it’s essential to start from a rock-solid base. That means well-written training materials that not only cover the learning objectives but are created in a way that facilitates learning. In this article, we share some expert tips and tricks.
Learning styles is a term that has been popular for some time now. It refers to an individual’s preference for absorbing knowledge. Each one of us is unique and our differences extend to our preferred method of learning new things. There are three main types of learning style:
Visual learners like to see things written down. They are responsive to visual aids such as PowerPoint presentations, handouts and charts which clearly show the relevant data. They think in terms of images and like to see things done.
Auditory learners like to listen to instructions. They retain more information if they hear it spoken out-loud. They learn most effectively during verbal presentations, as well as debates and discussions.
Kinesthetic learners retain more information if they are able to practice a task themselves. They often respond well to actually ‘doing’ something, then making notes about the experience after the practical task.
Mixing Learning Styles
Not everyone falls neatly into one of the three main learning styles. But most people have a definite weighting to one particular category. Of course, in groups, you find a variety of learning styles. With this in mind, it’s important to mix up learning styles when you write training materials. Review any material you create and make sure you are addressing the needs of all types of learners.
Blocks of Effective Training
Attention span plays an important role in someone’s ability to learn and retain information. People tend to ‘switch off’ after a certain amount of time. They may also feel overwhelmed by too much information. This is increasingly true today. The internet generation are used to finding bite-sized chunks of information at the click of a button.
It’s important to break up your topic into smaller units. This is a good way to structure your training material to ensure you cover what you need to. It also makes it more digestible for most people.
Each unit should have:
- A title – this must clearly identify the information in the unit.
- Timing – provides an idea of the length of time the unit takes to complete.
- A set of learning objectives – usually no more than three main objectives. These tell the learner exactly what they will be able to do/what they will know at the conclusion of the unit.
- Training Blocks – these sections should cover the skills or knowledge required. Use a mixture of learning styles. For example a seminar, a practical task and a video clip.
- A summary – recaps the key information in the training blocks.
- Re-statement of the learning objectives – enables the learner and trainer to check the objectives have been met.
- Question section – the learner has the opportunity to question the trainer.
Training Materials Checklist
When you’ve created your training materials, use this mini checklist to make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running when you deliver your planned training:
- Is the training broken down into bite-sized units?
- Does each unit have:
- A title
- A set of learning objectives
- Training blocks
- A summary
- Re-statement of learning objectives
- Opportunity for questions?
- Do your training blocks include materials that will appeal to each of the three learning styles? Consider handouts, slide presentations, video clips, seminars, discussions, opportunities for debate, lectures, practical tasks and/or actual work tasks with trainer guidance/support.
Being able to write effective training materials is a transferable skill that is useful throughout your career. Like all communication skills, creating training materials has its own set of guidelines. Once you incorporate the guidelines we’ve provided, you can expect to see a marked improvement in the effectiveness of your training delivery. Your learners will also benefit from increased information retention.
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