Diana's Top 10 Training Tips

Find A Way to Show You Aren't Perfect Early On in Your Training.

This demonstrates you aren't perfect, aren't distant and removed from the lives of their students, families, and colleague teachers.

Example: Describe yourself making a mistake when working with a student. This allows the participant to admit to themselves, "yes, I too have made mistakes: and may have been responsible for escalating challenging behavior accidentally at times".

The message that you are real and understand the stresses of working with challenging students greatly increases receptivity for altering what they do in the face of challenging behavior.

Training Is for Three Purposes - Evaluate In Those Terms.

  1. to alter belief systems (indirectly)
  2. to provide knowledge on best practice
  3. to practice skills

Decide the main emphasis of your training, then design workshop evaluation forms with sentence stems that will allow you to discover whether you succeeded. No presentation can equally achieve all three purposes.

Use Humor.

Cartoons are appreciated by everyone! Funny stories help too. But remember to say, "I'm joking" if you think you could possibly be misinterpreted in your humor.

Use a Non-Example Paired with an Example.

When an audience hears "what NOT to do" and recognizes themselves, they are more receptive to the positive example of what to do.

Tell Stories and Use Metaphors.

This helps to illustrate your point and will support participants in recalling material later.

Time Each Segment of Your Training.

Timing 5-10 minute segments before you begin helps keep a handle on pacing. Know what you are trying to accomplish and never allow a training to "get off task" for long. Achieve your objectives.

Remember the 3-Part Structure: Preview, Present, Review.

This structure helps the audience believe in your grasp and organization of the material:

  • PREVIEW: Before you begin, tell the audience what you will cover and how long the training will last. Establish your credibility for telling them. Ask them to state any burning needs before you begin. Respond with whether or not you will cover any "burning needs" that arise. If you won't cover something, tell them other ways they can get what they want, if that is possible.
  • PRESENT: Remain consistent with what you said you'd present on and try not to deviate too much from the agenda.
  • REVIEW: Review key concepts at the end of each section, and again at the end of the training.

Consider Presentation Style.

Different audiences prefer different presentation styles. Consider audience trends. These are trends, with plenty of exceptions, that Diana Browning Wright observed in training 22,000 educators in California on behavior plans.

  • Administrators like short summaries and a few illustrating stories but are really interested in forms/handouts they can pass on. They don't tend to like hands-on group work. They tend to sneak out for cell phone use if an activity goes on longer than a few minutes.
  • School Psychologists and Speech/Language Specialists are desperate for theoretical knowledge and will patiently sit through lengthy trainings to get to pieces they can use. They tend to be neutral on group work and will withdraw into shoptalk readily when they are supposed to be doing a group assignment.
  • Teachers/Aides are thrilled to be with adults and need time to interact. They tend to be hands on folks and love to present to each other in small groups and to make things to use later. They love humor and recognize pacing problems quickly. They are skeptics and want concrete, here-and-now examples liberally sprinkled in any theory. They appreciate anything that can be used tomorrow! If you don't know and/or aren't prepared to present the practical application of your material, don't present theory to this audience.

Act Confident in Your Role.

(Even if you don't feel it!) If you don't know something that is asked by the audience - say so. Be amazed at their insight - not threatened. It's not your job to know everything, so don't feel threatened if you don't - who does!

Breathe. Laugh. Acknowledge how interesting, insightful, or thought provoking the statement was. Tell them you want to find that out and get back to them later. Ask for an e-mail address, etc. or some other way to get them a better or more thorough response if you can.

Use A Lot of Visuals.

Use Power Points (minimal text!), videos, pictures, etc., as well as graphically organized handouts. Do not stay on one visual for a long period of time - especially if the presentation time is in the afternoon. Also, for low technology users, too much technology emphasizes the distance between you and them, thereby potentially lowering receptivity.

Be Unpredictable & Keep People Guessing.

Especially in the late afternoon. (How about 11 things on a top-ten list?) It keeps people awake. Move around, use Active Learning Strategies, and/or phrase something in an unusual way.


Originally created by Diana Browning Wright, presented at PENT Summit 2003. Adapted here to ensure accessibility.