A great training event is every bit as dependant on the venue as it is the trainer; when both come into their own the likelihood is your session will prove a highly effective one.
Deciding where and when to host training however is no easy task. At least it shouldn’t be. Indeed, the best locations are nearly always those that have been thoroughly scouted beforehand. Research helps organisers determine exactly where will be conducive to the learning experience.
Sorting the wheat from the chaff in this regard is to consider a great many factors, beginning with ease of access…
Unsurprisingly, journeys that mirror assault courses are unappealing ones and can seriously impact attendance.
A crowd is far likelier to appear if good transport links are in place, along with the likes of parking and bike shelters upon arrival. Accessibility of course extends to the building itself. Clear signage should usher guests in and out of a facility, while provisions for any disabled students should also be in situ. Be in no doubt that the emphasis is on organisers themselves to ensure such aspects are taken care of.
Just as significant is the presence of equipment, both technical and non-technical. Those leading a class will likely call upon projectors, microphones, speakers, video players and further mod cons. To assume every venue will have these readily available is ambitious bordering on foolish.
To stave off disappointment, enquiries should be made as to exactly what a conference facility will provide.
In addition to the aforementioned electrical devices you want to ensure basic stationary is included within any package. If that is not the case, there will be pressure on you to source the equivalent of a pencil case for every attendee; few training sessions are productive without them.
Elsewhere, space is your friend. As we will touch upon later, the best training sessions involve practical elements which are subject to room for manoeuvre. Similarly, adjoining rooms allow for breakout areas and respite as well as an area in which tasks can be completed.
When hiring a meeting room within a leisure hotel there is little to no chance of overspill. In truth, a further conference is likely to be unfolding right next door as hoteliers seek to maximise earning potential.
And what of the main room itself? Size alone will not make for a productive session. Instead the likes of tables and chairs, air conditioning, lighting and acoustics all need to be considered.
Reconfiguration is often necessary to accommodate numbers in the first instance and demonstrations in the second. Never underestimate the importance of comfort meanwhile. Hardened, rigid seating will leave attendees pre-occupied with just how pained they are, detracting from your agenda.
5. AIR CONDITIONING
Depending on the time of year air conditioning could play a crucial role in your training. The UK is in the midst of a record-breaking summer. Naturally, the prospect of being holed up in a room resembling a human sweatbox hardly appeals. Any venue staging events should boast relief in the form of a tried a tested AC unit but to assume is to leave to chance. Ask and test before confirming any booking.
That try before you buy principle is one holding great sway when it comes to arranging training events. Visiting a venue prior to the big day will allow you and your colleagues to ascertain lighting, natural or otherwise.
Whilst natural light can lend itself to certain sessions it can undermine others. You should seek assurances that your chosen venue encompasses blinds or curtains for those times where you want to block it out.
If you plan to deploy the electrical equivalent meanwhile, it pays to sample this in person well in advance. It is not uncommon for this to prove too glaring or indeed too dim. Organisers should be the judge.
Similar logic extends to sound equipment. No training session will ever prove productive if the lecturer leading it cannot be heard from certain sections of the room. To guard against this is to test out the acoustics yourself.
It is advisable to stand at different points and gauge whether you can hear a colleague speaking into the microphone from each. If you cannot, relay as much.
Forget not refreshments. Regular breaks are essential if you hope to retain attention and enthusiasm over the course of several hours. There will be an expectancy for you – and by extension the venue – to fill those intervals with food and drink.
Do not doubt the importance of sustenance in making for a productive lecture or seminar.
All of the above should be taken into consideration before settling on a location. If the aforementioned is taken care of you are halfway towards hosting a productive training day. The rest is largely down to personnel…
9. OVERVIEW AND SUMMARY
It goes without saying that a good venue matters little without a good lecturer. The latter must be enthusiastic, knowledgeable and above all engaging if they truly hope to enlighten an audience.
A good starting point for any session is a complete overview of what you plan to cover. Indeed, this sets the tone for the class and becomes a reference point of sorts as the day unfolds. Like a good essay you should compliment an introduction with a conclusion. Summarising what you have covered in the preceding few hours reinforces the subject matter one last time. Repetition is after all a powerful tool.
As touched upon earlier in this piece interaction can distinguish a good training session from an average one. Those at the head of the class should seek to pepper their presentation with movement, gesticulation and a host of practical assignments for those in attendance.
Many believe as much as 80% of any lecture or seminar should take the form of individual or group tasks. Inviting contributions will also keep people invested in what you have to say. Ask for the sharing of life experiences relevant to the topic where appropriate.
As for holding the gaze and attention of those sat before you, there is no better way than teasing the prospect of a quiz. Unquestionably, people tend to listen harder in the knowledge they will soon be tested on exactly what is being taught.
Adhering to an agreed timeframe meanwhile is vitally important. You may be having fun but that is not to say everybody present would like to extend the session.
Conversely, avoid delaying the start of proceedings because you are waiting on a handful of latecomers. Be mindful that people have prior engagements not easily moved; minds will soon wander if you head off on a tangent.
Where possible inject humour into your session. If a point can be emphasised with elements of fun, as opposed to the mere rolling out of statistics, it has greater chance of striking a chord and thus being remembered.
13. VISUAL AIDS
It goes without saying that visual aids are a crucial ingredient to a good training event. That said, distributing any old flyer will not suffice. As part of your preparation you should ensure these handouts are well designed, clear in their messaging and allowing for annotation.
That same pre-planning is demanded of PowerPoint presentations, which should be opened up on multiple computers prior to the event itself. Only strict testing will guard against technical faults. As for the make-up of the slides themselves, encompassing white space will ensure you do not overwhelm attendees with too much information at one time.
A focus on engaging attendees can often come at the expense of a trainer’s own enjoyment. Think about it… rolling out the same lesson plan time and again can become tiresome. There is always a risk a lack of enthusiasm will rub off on students.
For that reason companies running different types of training sessions should look to rotate those charged with providing them. Those working in a smaller team meanwhile may benefit from approaching the sessions from a new angle now and again.
Finally, versatility brings its own rewards. Anybody leading a training event should be looking for tell-tale signs that a certain method is being received favourably. If that is the case they will call upon that particular technique several times throughout the day.
By contrast, if a certain idea seems to be falling flat, it should be changed out for another tactic.
In short, the secret to a productive training session is pairing good content with surroundings befitting of it. One without the other jeopardises the success of the event as a whole, leaving all parties disappointed.
For more information on the things to look out for when considering a training venue click here.
If you would like to know more about Lane End Conferences’ facilities or think we might be able to help your organisation with hosting a training event, please get in touch or call us on 01494 881 171.