Tag Archives: course design

Course design 4: Know your audience

Knowing the client is important as we saw in the last episode. But beyond that it’s equally important to know the audience. After all it’s one thing to know that you’re delivering training for a Local Authority but that knowledge alone won’t help you decide whether to plan a course for senior social workers in child protection or home care service providers in elderly care services.

We need to know who the training is aimed at as well as who it’s delivered for.

There is no point introducing training on medication administration to workers who don’t deal with it. Similairly it’s not necessary to train psychiatrists in psychiatric diagnosis – they’re already well versed in that. It doesn’t matter how interested I might be in deliberate self harm (as it happens that really is a topic that fascinates me) – not everyone needs to know about endorphins, self harm as a coping strategy that releases emotional turmoil resulting from invalidation and trauma.

This is one of the many situations in training design and presentation when we need to be clear that our own individual opinions and preferences are much less relevant than the needs and philosophies of the client.

There is a limit to this, of course, and most of us have at one time or another withdrawn from training rather than become involved in something we disagree with but these are relatively rare extremes. More often than not disagreements between the interests and philosophies of the trainer and the client are much less significant than that.

In most cases all we need to do is remember that good trainers are able to ‘step aside’ and focus upon the topic at hand rather than their own personal opinions and bias.

So another of the keys to good and effective training is to know your audience.


Course design 2: The 6P rule

I have a friend who takes every opportunity to taunt me with what he considers to be both an amusing and accurate summary of what I do. It’s a cliché that has become so tired and familiar that it doesn’t even get a reaction from me any more, however witty my friend considers it to be. The cliché is this…

“Those who can do, those who can’t, teach and

those who can’t teach, teach teachers.”

My friend (we’ll call him Peter) is not unusual. There are many people who hold this opinion of teachers and trainers and it’s not difficult to see why. Training is a skill and it takes preparation and real consideration. Putting together a genuinely useful, engaging and interesting course requires a lot of hard work. Without this preparation the course will fail.

Unfortunately a lot of practitioners seem to think that if they can do the job themselves then they are qualified to train others in it. They don’t do the groundwork and their training falls flat. Not only is it useless for the participants they inflict it upon but it also inevitably makes them look incompetent. The result of this is that many people who have been exposed to this sort of training form the conclusion that trainers are just failed practitioners who’ve read a book and wittered at them…

“Those who can’t, teach….”

I would argue that the best trainers are also the best practitioners. They know the subject intimately. They also understand the difference between theory (which always exists in the ideal world) and the realities of practice. More than that, they’ve put in the hours to think how best to help their trainees tread the same intellectual and experiential path that they followed to develop their skills. This is much more than merely spouting information or wittering at an audience in front of a power point full of pretty pictures but very little else.

If you want your training sessions to work then you need to know your subject, you need to understand the stages of development that participants need to go through to achieve the goal of the training sessions and you need to have worked out precise ways to get them from A to B. You don’t need to be a qualified teacher with a PhD in education but you do need a clear plan and an equally clear sense of the purpose of the course you’re writing. You need to know what you’re trying to achieve. As Steven Covey once wrote – ‘start with the end in mind’.

And you need to prepare. Remember the 6P rule:

Proper Planning Prevents Particularly Poor Performance


Course design 1: Introduction

One of the core skills for any independent trainer is course design. That’s why one of the first resources I’m publishing as part of my giveaway is this little series.

In fairness this was always available for free on www.TheCareGuy.com so it’s not really part of the ‘Giveaway’ as such. But I think it’s so important for any would be trainers to know this stuff that it just had to be included here. I’ve scheduled it as a series of posts on consecutive Monday mornings. We will cover…

  1. Introduction
  2. The 6P rule
  3. Know your client
  4. Know your audience
  5. Tell ‘em what they need to know – not what you know
  6. Do you want to inform, discuss, develop or what?
  7. A few major points and supporting info/exercises
  8. A theme runs through it
  9. Schema (build on what they know)
  10. Learning styles
  11. Planning
  12. Write handout titles and trainers notes first
  13. Take the time to tell the tale
  14. Power point – the kiss of death
  15. Don’t milk it