Here are some soft training methods that are not necessarily essential to conveying information, but can make receiving data or instructions a much more enjoyable experience, keep trainees involved, and help them retain more information.
Make learning fun. Why? Trainees will not be enthusiastic if training sessions are dry and dull. Few employees respond to or remember complicated concepts or theories; they want to learn practical information about what they can do to get better results today. If they don’t find the message entertaining, they won’t retain it. Since variety is the spice of life, use several different training methods to engage trainees in a variety of ways. Also work to alternate the pace of each session to keep trainees’ interest level high.
Use humor. Humor helps keep enthusiasm at peak levels. Trainers can make a point more effectively by using humor than by drowning trainees in statistics or theories. Avoid telling jokes, however, because humor is so subjective that someone in your audience may be offended and lose track of training for the rest of the session. Personal, self-deprecating humor is the safest way to go.
Use attractive packaging. Use materials that are well-packaged and that communicate value. Professional packaging is a powerful tool for setting a good first impression.
Encourage participation. Make the session lively by engaging participants in the learning process. In fact, try to spend close to 80 percent of training time on group participation. Encourage everyone in the training session to speak freely and candidly, because learning occurs most readily when feelings are involved.
Build self-esteem. Employees understandably want to know what’s in it for them. They know that most training programs are designed to make money for the company, but rarely does training lift employees’ spirits or help them to become better in their own lives. Create a win-win environment by using the training program to build the participants’ self-worth and self-esteem.
While some of these qualities are obviously necessary for anyone in a teaching position, others may not seem as necessary, such as being patient or open-minded. All of these attributes, however, contribute to making top-notch trainers. All the best trainers are:
Good communicators. They speak well, express their thoughts clearly, and have an engaging presentation style.
Knowledgeable. They know their topic cold. They understand all the concepts and know all the details. They can answer questions thoroughly and at a level that trainees understand. If they ever can’t answer a question, they know exactly where to go to get that answer and they promise to do so as soon as possible.
Experienced. They know what they’re talking about. They’ve been in the field doing what they teach in training.
Good with people. Their personality styles may vary, but they enjoy working with people. They can engage groups of people and work with them to meet training goals.
Interested in learning. They recognize the value of learning in their own lives and want to help others learn. They find satisfaction in sharing with others the skills and knowledge they have acquired through hard work and persistence.
Patient. They understand that people learn in different ways and at different paces. They take the time to make sure each trainee understands what’s going on and leaves training sessions with the skills and knowledge he or she came to acquire.
Open-minded. They respect other people’s points of view and know that there are often many ways to achieve the same objectives. They don’t assume they know everything, but instead are willing to listen to and learn from trainees.
Creative. They bring ingenuity and their own natural curiosity to the task of training. They create an environment in their training sessions that encourages learning and inspires trainees to reach beyond what they already know to explore new ideas and methods.
Well-prepared. They know their material, their objectives, and their plan of presentation. They’ve checked to see that any equipment they expect to use in training is in place and operational. They’ve made sure that all supplies and supporting materials are available in the right quantities.
Flexible. They are able to adjust their training plan to accommodate their audience and still meet all training objectives.
Well-organized. Good trainers can handle several tasks at once. They know how to manage their time and their work.