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6 Reasons to Love a Posted Agenda

Posted by Paul Sitter on 9/26/13 4:00 AM
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I was chatting with a group of trainers last week and the subject came up regarding how to let the learners know what was in store for them during the training. An agenda or road map is the obvious answer.

Adult learners don’t like uncertainty. There are many ways to let the learners know what the training session holds. Some believed a PowerPoint slide laying out the day’s activity would do the job. Others liked a white board for the agenda, but of course, the board would have to be cleared for other things. Some thought clear objective statements early in the training let the learners know where they were going during the session. I suppose all of these ideas, and others, get the job done.

My usual practice is an agenda on a flipchart sheet listing major activities for the training session. I post it near the door where I, as well as the learners, can see it throughout the training. I think it’s a three-way win; that is, a win for me, the learners, and time management. Here are six reasons why:

1. Road map. The agenda lets the participants know where they are at a glance. There is an adult learning principle called “Self Direction”—learners are used to making moment-to-moment decisions in the workplace, so they like to be in control of their time in the classroom as well. Since they can’t completely be in charge of their time while in class, the agenda lets them at least see where they are and where they’re going. This adds to the comfort level for most learners. It also keeps them aware of their progress.

2. Negotiation point. If the trainer has delivery flexibility, the agenda represents a discussion piece. Do the learners want some of the course content curtailed or deleted? Is there anything they want added? All of these factors can modify the existing agenda.

3. Reinforce the learning. Assuming the agenda reflects the training objectives, having them continually displayed in front of the learner reinforces the importance of those objectives.

4. Instructor job aid. The posted agenda represents a visual guide when I am managing my time in the classroom. That way I don’t have to look at my notes to see how much I have left to cover in the time remaining.

5. Handling tangents. The posted chart represents a time management tool. I can use it to keep the group on track when tangential questions arise, for example, “Good question, but if you’ll glance at the agenda, we still have a lot to cover. Could we add that to the parking lot?”

6. Review and transition. The agenda represents a way to review where we are after a break and re-focus learners on where we are going. This is especially important if the content of the day contains dissimilar tasks or topics. The previous day’s agenda can also be a vehicle to use for the next day’s review.

A posted agenda may not be for everyone. For me it is a great tool to keep me, and the class, organized and on track.

Paul has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s degree in History. Throughout Paul’s career he’s had the pleasure of training for a variety of industries including sports, military, technical, aviation, and academia. Paul firmly believes with the right training and support, people can be competent performers in most positions. The organizational trainer is the key to providing that performance boost. In his spare time, you might catch sight of Paul on the sidelines of a soccer field, biking through Napa Valley, or spending some quality time with his family.

Topics: managing training, tips-for-trainers

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