Continuous Improvement Tips and Tricks


For those of us who train for a living, each year brings new challenges. For example, we might have new programs to deliver or new audiences to work with, but, what if, due to the economy and other budgetary constraints there is nothing “new” to deliver? What do we do then?

In my mind, the next step is what I would call continuous improvement. No matter how long you’ve been training, it’s important to continue to improve upon the skills you have. You know the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog a new trick;” well, I disagree! I think you can continue to learn and improve upon the basic skills and competencies you have. With that said, here are a few “Tips and Tricks to re-visit as you gear up for 2010:


Tip # 1

PREPARE for your sessions

Simple, right? Experts in the industry say that you should spend two hours preparing for every 1 hour of presentation. For example, if you’re facilitating a three-hour class, you should initially spend six hours preparing. I know what you’re thinking – “Who’s got that much time?” So my suggestion is do what works for you, just remember to DO IT (even if it’s a class you’ve facilitated a hundred times.) It’s easy to spot a facilitator who is not prepared. The sad part of an ill-prepared facilitator is that it’s the participants who suffer, as they don’t receive the full benefit of the material due to the lack of preparation on the facilitator’s part. So please…prepare.

A quick tip:

  • Make a list of all materials needed for the class. This includes: participant workbooks, name badges, markers, tape, laptop, power cords, post-it notes, etc. Having a list for each class prevents you from having to think about it each time you facilitate. You can just pull out your list and you’re ready to go!


Tip # 2

PRACTICE- and then practice some more

PRACTICE your presentation any chance you get. Practice how you’ll stand and practice saying the words. Think about what kind of reactions/thoughts your audience will have. In real estate they use the phrase, Location, Location, Location. In training and development the catch phrase is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!


Tip # 3

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU – it’s about them

One of the biggest mistakes that facilitators make is that we think the presentation is about us. Shift that thinking and remind yourself that it’s about the participants. A couple of questions to think about prior to a class:

  • How does this material relate to my audience?
  • What will they be concerned about?
  • How can I overcome any obstacles they might have?


Anticipating your audience’s reaction and letting them “go where they need to go,” is a key trait of a Master Trainer. Knowing your content well enough to allow a participant (or class) to take a detour during a session could lead to a memorable and fulfilling experience for everyone - including you!


Tip #4

TAKE A PARTNER and learn from each other

In other words, CO-FACILITATE! There is no better way to learn material than to co-facilitate with someone. Do this many times, switching sections each time. Co-facilitating sessions is great for both of you as you can see how someone else interprets material. It’s also good for the participants. It gives them a break and allows them the opportunity to experience different facilitation styles and personalities. It also takes some of the burden off of you as a solo facilitator, and most importantly, it’s fun!


Marcy Richeson works with Old Navy Learning and Organizational Development, Minneapolis.

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