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Using an Agenda in Training

Posted by Linda Carole Pierce on 6/2/14 4:00 AM
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I recently had a lengthy discussion with a client regarding the purpose of an agenda and what should be included. The client did not understand its purpose or value and consequently had not been using an agenda in her training programs. This blog will highlight some of the key points discussed with the client and why I think they are important.

When introducing a session, there should always be an overview or “big picture” of what will take place during the training program. The agenda is simply the roadmap broken down into detail indicating what will take place during the session each day. Adult learners want to know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and how it’s going to happen! The agenda not only supports the learner but it also aids the trainer. It helps keep the session on task and on target.


I am often asked about how much information should be included in the agenda. The agenda should not include too much information with long run-on sentences. The recommended format is to KISS…Keep It Short and Simple. Use bullet points to serve as a checklist of what will be covered in the session. The instructor can verbally expand on each topic when covering the key points of the agenda.


Another issue that is often raised concerns the inclusion of time on the agenda. This is a matter of style, the company culture, and the type of session that is being facilitated. Based on the types of trainings I conduct, my personal preference is to stay away from listing times. However, as trainers, it is important for us to know our time frames and where we should be hour by hour. I believe it’s okay to give time frames to the participants that indicate what will occur in the morning and afternoon session. This allows for flexibility and minimizes being held to rigid timelines by the participants.


In summary, a prepared agenda should be referred to at the beginning of each day and periodically throughout the day. It should be visible to both the instructor and the learner via flipchart, PowerPoint slide, handout, or workbook. Susan B. Wilson offers a quote, “Meetings without an agenda are like a restaurant without a menu.” And, fortunately my client had many light bulb moments and now includes agendas in all her training programs!


If you would like more information on how to set your learners up for success, check out our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop.


Do you use an agenda in your training? How has using an agenda helped in your training sessions?


Dealing with Difficult Participants

Linda has been a course leader with Langevin since 2005. She graduated from New York University with a degree in Organizational Behavior and Communication. She’s also had the privilege of teaching at NYU’s Gallatin Division in the area of Theatre and Education. Linda began her career facilitating conflict resolution and coexistence workshops for diverse groups, and running workshops in the Middle East and South Africa, as well as facilitating social issues workshops for young people in the NYC school system. Linda believes learning works best when it is student-centered, experiential, interactive, and fun. Outside of the classroom, you’ll find Linda at the theatre, either as an audience member or actor, or spending quality time with her family and friends.

Tags: facilitation skills, presentation skills, tips-for-trainers

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