By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore
In-house training programs are a valuable tool for an organization’s effort to increase the productivity and the success of its people and, therefore, the organization. They ought to be a regular ingredient in corporate management for success and profitability. While superior content and delivery are necessary for an effective program, the logistics should not be overlooked. Having conducted hundreds of in-house programs and seminars over the last thirty years, I offer the following five suggestions as a checklist for setting up a successful in-house program.
- Get Them There. There are few things more discouraging than trying to present to an empty room. I use the three-step approach: invite, confirm, and re-confirm. When people are invited and sign-up, they are reminded of their commitment and asked to make attendance a high priority. If, as will happen, things change and they cannot attend, they are asked to cancel in advance so that their seat can be offered to another person. Next, I confirm their attendance in writing with all the relevant details of day, date, times, location, directions, dress code, and what they need to bring, and what benefits they can expect to receive from attending. Finally, I re-confirm via telephone about 72 hours in advance. The result? Our “no show” rate is almost non-existent.
- Arrive Early. The physical set-up is an essential ingredient to the program’s success. Arrive early enough to make sure that the room is set-up the way you need it to be (classroom, theater, horseshoe, etc.) and that your audience will be seated in the right direction. Provide only the number of seats for the number of people you are expecting. If you are unsure how many will attend, underestimate. You can always add more. You want to avoid empty seats. Check the lighting (burned out bulbs, open/close shades), temperature (should be a little on the cool side to keep them awake-around 68 degrees is preferable), and make sure all the equipment (overheads, slide projectors, sound, microphone, flip charts, etc.) is all there and operable. Be sure to have adequate supplies on hand (enough handouts, extra flip pads, notepads, pencil, pens, spare bulbs for the overhead, replacement batteries for the microphone, etc.) Be sure the room is clean, free of debris and that the remnants from previous programs are removed (old notes on the flip pads, masking tape on the wall, trash containers empty, etc.)
- Start With An Overview. “It’s not that I’m not a leader. It’s just that I don’t have a following yet.” Your audience will follow you and play the game well when they understand the rules. Tell them what to expect. Inform them of the ending time, when breaks are scheduled and if refreshments will be served, lunch (will be served or where you can get it), location of bathrooms and telephones, your policy about receiving messages in class, how you prefer to handle their questions, taking notes, and, in one sentence, what you hope they will accomplish in the program.
- “Be Here Physically And Emotionally.” Encourage them to set aside their other issues just for the duration of this program. Ask them to be here physically and emotionally, and to direct their focus to what this program is all about. Ask them leave judgment out of the room. Let all the ideas come in first. No matter why they came to this program, voluntarily or involuntarily, they are spending their time, a portion of their lives. They owe it to themselves to get some value in return. Of the hundreds of programs I have attended over the years, I have never failed to walk away with at least one good, new idea. “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”
- Start And End The Program On Time. Let the participants know when they sign-up that this is the policy, that you will start and end on time. If you start the program late, you punish the people who were on time. End on time. If you go beyond the scheduled ending time, you have violated your contract with them and their attention shifts from the presentation to the breach of contract. We must always respect other people’s schedules and commitments. (Certainly make yourself available after the program for individual attention, but give the group what they were promised.)
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Dr. Donald E. Wetmore
Certified Executive Coach, Consultant and Trainer
Author, “Organizing Your Life” and “The Productivity Handbook”
Personal Productivity Solutions to Leverage Your Impact
127 Jefferson St.
Stratford, CT 06615
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