Langevin's Train-the-Trainer Blog

5 Instructional Design Tips that will Transform Your Training

Posted by Marsha Weisleder on 1/14/19 8:00 AM
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I’m passionate about training and giving people the skills they need to excel in their jobs. One of my biggest passions revolves around instructional design. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “My purpose on this earth is to abolish death by PowerPoint.” It’s insulting to our learners. Yes, they know how to read. Guess what? It’s insulting for us, too. Did I become a trainer so I could read to people? No, I did not.


I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years, and I still see training materials that don’t look up to par. On the positive side, it allows me an opportunity to make recommendations and improvements. On the negative side, it tells me that subpar training still exists.


Well, great news! In the next few minutes, you’ll be able to transform your training with these five simple, impactful tips:


When building your content, focus on the tasks that make up the job

That is, what people “do” in their job. Too many times, I see manuals and slide decks that look like a data dump. They’re filled with information learners will never need or use back on the job. Remember, people get paid for what they do, not what they know. With tasks, your training will be job specific, relevant, motivating and transferable.


Training is made up of 3 key ingredients: presentation, application and feedback

Deliver the information but remember that learners need time to practice and apply what they’ve learned, preferably in a real work scenario. They also need feedback so they know what they’ve done well and where they can improve.


Never do for the learners what they can do for themselves

This is one of my favorite mantras. So, how can you use this? When it’s time to review the material, let the learners do it. If something needs to be read, let the learners do it. If you need to determine break time, let the learners decide. Are you seeing a trend?


Design your tests/practices first

Before you decide how to deliver the content, design the application or practice. This is in the reverse order from what the learner sees which explains why this is often a huge “AHA” moment for my clients. Why do we recommend designing in reverse order? Well, this is where the learning happens. This is how we determine if we met our objective. Clearly, this is the most critical piece of any training program. So, let’s design the best practice possible and let’s do that first.


Use interactive lecture techniques to present content

We can’t get away from sharing information. It’s part of any training program. However, what we can do is make it an engaging, interactive, and enjoyable experience for our learners. Use techniques like graphic association, mock interview, multiple choice, or search and learn, just to name a few.


For more information on these and other techniques, check out our Advanced Instructional Design workshop. You’ll have a chance to design one of these lecturettes during the session. Yes, we practice what we preach!


With these five tips, I promise you’ll take your training, and your learners, to a whole new level of performance. Your learners will thank you. Your boss will thank you. Your stakeholders will thank you. I thank you because, together, we are abolishing death by PowerPoint, one training course at a time.


Instructional Designer Starter Kit

Topics: instructional design

Written by Marsha Weisleder

Marsha has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. She went on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School and practiced civil litigation for a few years. While working for a company as their in-house legal counsel, Marsha fell into a training position and never looked back! Each day, Marsha brings passion and excitement to her workshops, always encouraging her participants to find their own passion as well. Outside of the classroom, Marsha loves to spend time with her family, travel, and stay active. Of course her main obsession is Elvis! Some people might think she’s a little over-the-top about him, but doesn’t everyone have an Elvis shrine in their home? Maybe not…

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