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6 Design Disasters to Avoid

Mistakes are often made due to lack of knowledge and experience or simply in haste. When it comes to designing your training—which is the first critical step in engaging your participants—mistakes can sabotage your results before your session even begins. Ranging from the common and overlooked to the surprising, here are six of the biggest design disasters you should avoid.

  1. Not defining your objectives or providing a roadmap. Don’t leave your participants “hanging.” State the objectives of the training and inform your learners of what you will be covering—and then do it! If you fail to meet expectations, it can be a career killer.
  2. Providing poor quality content. That includes spending too much time on the nice-to-know versus the need-to-know. Always include the content that the learner needs to know rather than what is nice to know. Hint: put the nice-to-know in an appendix in case you don’t cover it in the time allotted.
  3. Not building activities into your training that teach your content. Most adult learners are kinesthetic—they learn by doing. You must engage your participants in the learning. Lecture just doesn't cut it.
  4. Unsuccessfully using media. Or overusing one form of media (DVDs, gaming, books, videos, etc.). A variety of media stirs things up and helps create more interest. Aesthetics count too. Clear visuals, short segments, and high quality sound are more effective.
  5. Not reviewing or revisiting content throughout the session. Studies show that in order for a piece of information to sink in, it must be covered six times. Covering content less than that leaves you short of your objective: retention.
  6. Creating job aids that are conceptual instead of behavioral. For example, “Susie answered the phone pleasantly” is a concept; it doesn’t specifically convey the results desired. “Susie answered the phone within three rings” lists a specific behavior you want modeled.

Investing your time—and your learners’ time—in a training program that has no specific objectives, covers the wrong content and doesn’t use tools and activities correctly is simply not good practice and is a waste of resources. By being aware of the mistakes listed above, you can avoid them and design your instruction successfully.