The Party Bag Principle
For a child coming home from a party, one of the key thrills is to receive a little party bag with a toy and some cake to take away with you.
As a trainer we should try to follow the same principle.
Not necessarily literally, although many companies do like to offer freebie pens or memory sticks with company logos all over them as a marketing tool and to create a warm fuzzy feel-good factor.
However by party bag principle I am referring to something that is connected to the training itself: maybe offering a couple of simple tips or techniques that are easy to grasp, easy to understand and easy to use. That way the student immediately has something of value that can be taken away and put to good use.
It may be a small hint or trick of the trade, a computer short-cut or a neat phrase or perspective which results in the student going back to their work, thinking:
'That is useful; I see how I can use that.'
It may be something as simple as a little phrase like 'righty tighty, lefty loosey' to remind how to tighten or loosen a screw.
It might be a clever little question that works well in a sales interview.
It might be a way to save time or reach a quicker result.
This is particularly important because one of the key challenges a trainer faces is making the training relevant and thereby creating a clear connection between the training room and the 'real' world outside.
A recurring complaint from students is that the training was all very well, but a bit theoretical, lacked relevance, or that they simply could not see clearly how they could apply the learning directly to their work.
Therefore to be able to offer something specific - (however small) - something from which the student can clearly visualise a genuine benefit once they leave the training room will go a long way to winning the student over.
I remember a student telling me that having come away from an IT course which covered a large volume of material about management systems and databases, what particularly stayed in her mind and what made the whole session seem worthwhile to her, was a simple little keyboard shortcut that she had been shown.
She appreciated the full scope of the training, but it was the keyboard shortcut that really made an impression on her, as she could picture how she could use it as soon as she went back to her desk.
Practical tips, simple suggestions, professional experiences can all be those little sparks that win a student's attention and in the process make them more positive about the training.
And once they feel positive, they are more likely to engage, delve deeper and find other points of value in the rest of the programme.
So imagine your students at the end of the training. Are they leaving with something useful in their party bag?
This article was written by Michael Ronayne, director at The Art of Training and Public Speaking and four-time UK National Public Speaking Champion.
To discover more of Michael's top training techniques, check out his professionally accredited Train the Trainer course.