Before Your Training Session: 3 Simple Things to Remember


It’s 7:15 a.m.  Your training session is scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m.  You arrive in your training room; it is set up and seemingly ready to go.  An amateur trainer might just fire up her laptop, assume everything is ready to roll, and kick back with a cup of coffee for the next 45 minutes.

(But we’re not amateurs, are we?)

Just because things look “ready” on the surface doesn’t mean they are. Taking a few minutes prior to the start of your training session to finalize the details will not only ensure that your surroundings are in order, but it will give you, the facilitator, an added boost of confidence that will energize you and create a welcoming learning environment for your participants.  Here are 3 things every facilitator should be in the habit of reviewing, prior to kicking off a session:

1. Test your equipment and connectivity.

Is the wifi connected?  Do you have batteries in your presentation “clicker”?  Is the projector – well, projecting? What about participant workstations – do those need to be powered up and ready?  Is your laptop connected to a power source?  These are just a few things that are sometimes overlooked.  When we overlook these details, it can slow us down and get the session off-track, before it even starts.  Make a list of the tools and equipment you need to use for your session, and ensure that everything is in working order prior to the start of your session.

2. Consider the view.

Sit in participant seats around the room – front, middle, back and sides – and make sure that any visual aids, whether a flip chart, PowerPoint or whiteboard, can be seen legibly from any vantage point.  No one should struggle to view your materials!

I tend to wander, so I also take my clicker and walk around to different points in the room to make sure it works, even when I’m at the back of the room. I need to know that even if I’m “working the room”, I can advance my slides or use the laser pointer, if needed.

3. Greet your guests!

Introduce yourself, and get to know them (if you don’t already)! If you’re providing coffee or other refreshments, encourage them to partake. Take the opportunity to build rapport from the earliest moments. Engage participants from the moment they walk in the door! This rapport also puts you at ease and helps you relax. The more comfortable you are with your audience, the more natural and confident your delivery will be. I believe this wholeheartedly.

Your training room is your “home”. If you were hosting a dinner party in your home, how would you want your guests to be treated? Naturally, you would want the atmosphere to be just right, so your guests can enjoy themselves.  Successfully executing a training session really isn’t any different!  Awhile back, I wrote a piece about must-haves for training events.  Check it out here, and compare your list to mine! Add your own must-haves to the comments, if you’d like. Having the right tools on hand is such an important part of the preparation process!

So, to sum it up, details matter. When things go smoothly, participants remember. When things go awry, well…they also remember.  How do you want them to remember your session?

Your turn: What preparation “rituals” do you have before kicking off a training event? Veteran trainers, what lessons have you learned about preparation throughout your career? Start the conversation here in the comments, and continue the conversation by following me on Twitter.

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3 thoughts on “Before Your Training Session: 3 Simple Things to Remember

  1. Brian Washburn says:

    This is a great checklist of reminders. Even though I’ve done hundreds of presentations, I still forget things from time to time – like a few weeks ago I was so distracted by the projector that the facility had provided (but had not calibrated to project onto the entire screen so I spent 15 minutes with the meeting host trying to get the projector to the right height, get the focus just right, etc.) that I completely forgot to connect my laptop to a power source. 2/3 of the way through the presentation, my battery pooped out. Not so smooth…

    I’m often paired up to co-facilitate with an SME and I’ve found that SMEs aren’t always as contientious about these pre-training checklist items. If I’m traveling to a conference or a meeting, I’ll often start the day by hanging a flipchart on the outside of my co-presenter’s hotel door that says: TRAIN LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY – it’s my attempt at getting them to focus on the task in front of them on presentation day, from the moment they walk out of their room. I also like to walk through the lesson and “choreography” (who is facilitating what, who is scribing, etc.) one last time before participants enter the room.

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Brian! It sounds like you and I are sympatico here, particularly when working with SMEs. I’ve found most SMEs with whom I’ve co-facilitated are not natural facilitators, which is fine, but they often just lack the keen eye for the aesthetic details that are so important to the successful “choreography” (love that you used that word for it!) of a learning event. They just take it for granted that things will work when the curtain goes up. But we know better! We’ve dealt with faulty equipment, poor lighting, awkward room arrangements and everything else that can plague a session. It’s always good to hear what other people in the trenches are doing…so thanks for your comment!

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