Tips for Successful Instructor-led Training Events…or Concerts!

Last week I introduced you to the idea of making your subject matter experts the center of your initial training efforts. It’s their knowledge…not yours. Treat them like the knowledge rockstars they are and you will win.

Recap of Last Post

Lets recap the last post to understand why you should see your SMEs as rockstars.

This is important because…

  1. you gain the trust of your SMEs
  2. you quickly add value to the business
  3. you can define/refine a repeatable ILT (Instructor led training) production process
  4. the event is the starting point for your new design process

These are all important but in this post I will focus on the ILT event.

As long as we’re stickin’ with the Rockstar metaphor we should think of our events as concerts, right? It’s a show! And your rockstar SME is center stage.  You want all of the attention on them, and not the room, and not the technology, or the horrible day they are having. Getting people away from their desks, and the grind of their day, should be as exciting as going to a concert for them. Being excited about “going to training” is not something you will hear very often.  But people do get excited about going to concerts and that’s your goal.

Simple Ideas for producing a killer training concert!

training best practices

Promote the event!

It’s not uncommon for training departments to stop caring once the class registration roster is full.  But this is a huge mistake. You want your attendees walking into the class with a pure desire to listen, and learn. And you can make a difference by continuing to communicate with the registered attendees. One giant, long, email the day before the event does not count.  Sure, do that, so they get the correct logistical information all in one place, but you should do more.  Small notifications over time can help keep their mind on the event and get them in the mood.  Don’t miss the learning opportunity here as well.

Provide food…GREAT food!

Food solves many problems, and great food can be magical. It’s hard to focus on learning when you’re hungry. If you are running a day-long workshop then you should be prepared to have a small breakfast, a hearty lunch and snacks throughout the day.  Even if you are only running a 1-hr event you should have some sort of food option available.

Setup and test technology…then test it again

There is nothing worse than dealing with technical issues in front of everyone and delaying the start of the event. This immediately puts everyone on edge and you quickly lose all of the excitement you built up with your pre-event promotional efforts.  This makes the SME’s job that much harder to reignite their passion for being there.

Greet attendees as they arrive

There is little more comforting than a kind greeting with a warm smile. This is your job, the SME’s job.  You are facilitating the event and the goto person for questions, etc…not the SME. Remember, they are the rockstar and you are the “promoter” so to speak. So be sure to go out of your way to welcome everyone and be engaged with the event so you can quickly address any issues…big or small.

Setup the room for success

Make sure the room is clean and free of foul odors. First impressions impact everything about the experience, so make sure the room is looking and smelling its best. Creating a comfortable environment for learning is critical and even the little things you do with a room make a big difference.  So, don’t just take a room as it is.  Go the extra mile and do something unique within the space to make it functional, memorable, and delightful.

Everyone Loves Getting Gifts

Setup each student area with a pen and paper…at the very least.  Make sure there is an outlet close by and wifi available. And don’t forget a small gift of some sort…preferably something branded and unique.

I think you get the idea.  Don’t just push the logistics of your event onto the shoulders of an admin.  This is YOUR event highlighting the genius of your knowledge rockstar.  At this point you have had little to no control over the content and so it is up to you to be excellent at all the things that ARE in your control. And that’s the logistics of the event.  Don’t minimize the importance of the little things and how much real learning impact you can have on attendees by paying attention to the details.

*Image courtesy of