Dynamic staff training: a how-to guide

Well executed employee training sessions can prove to be a dynamic and engaging way to communicate ideas and knowledge to your staff. They can help transform recent hires into productive and efficient team members and equip existing employees with skills to implement new processes and take on new markets.

In the modern workplace, the employee training session is a key conduit between employee and employer, allowing knowledge to be shared, discussed and absorbed. Many companies underestimate the value of staff training, often viewing it as a run-of-the-mill HR function rather than as a vehicle for business growth. Regular training will educate staff on new products, services and industry trends, expand their knowledge base and boost client confidence. However, this potential is often bypassed when training sessions cede into monotonous, one-way lectures that distance rather than connect with staff. Dull and uninspired training sessions can waste time, resources and valuable opportunities for communication.

Training sessions are best imagined as a conversation - a two-way street where staff both listen and actively contribute their ideas. The following tips will help you take a fresh approach to staff training:

Connecting the dots

We all know that connection is the basis of every relationship. Many training sessions overlook this in favour of a cookie-cutter, impersonal presentation style that addresses a faceless audience. Your staff members are intelligent individuals with their own values, motivations and aspirations. The best trainers will draw upon this to forge and sustain a connection. Make sure that sessions are kicked off with a roundtable where participants swap their names and relevant information with each other. This helps promote the atmosphere of engagement and collaboration that characterise the best training sessions. Don't be afraid to ask "left field" questions such as "When was the last time you enjoyed a training session?" Questions can spark lively debate and discussion and help tailor your presentation to the needs of your audience.

Multiply your impact

PowerPoint presentations are often criticised as being a bland and outdated training method with no place in the era of Google and Web 2.0. Despite this, PowerPoint has a powerful currency in the business world - if used in a creative way. Don't be afraid to use quirky photographs and video clips to make your presentation more vibrant. Multimedia plays a crucial role 21st century communication by forcing audiences to process information in different ways. Think about the age and demographic of your audience and choose material that they are likely to find relevant, inspiring or amusing. PowerPoint slides should be visually striking, tie in with the central themes of your presentation and hold your employees interest in addition to being informative.

Make it interactive

Although training is premised on the idea of interaction, activities that encourage this are often forgotten or clumsily tacked on to presentations. Interactivity should be woven through the fabric of your training session, allowing staff to be tested and consolidate the knowledge you impart. Pop quizzes are a great way to gauge whether staff have taken in your training - but make sure the questions provoke interesting discussion - or else you'll risk verging into classroom territory. Roleplays are another widely used training tool, but again, give your audience some interesting scenarios to play with if you want the session to be interactive not inane.

Designing an interesting and effective training session is not difficult if you plan, inject some creativity and think about ways to engage with your staff. Good staff training is not a droll exchange between trainer and trainee but a dynamic conversation that stays fresh in employees' minds.

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