Training Tips

Tips for individuals who provide training to others.

Prepare Yourself

  • Review all the content and key ideas.
  • Practice articulating the key ideas to someone or just by yourself.
  • Collect case studies of students with whom you have actually worked and can talk about in a very personal way. Using other people’s case studies may not be as powerful or convincing.
  • Prepare “stories” based on your own experience to illustrate the key ideas and concepts. For example, tell about a student you worked with in the past that you really did not like and how the behavior support plans you developed for that student did not work. Describe what you would do differently today using the knowledge you've acquired. Use yourself to acknowledge that teaching and/or supporting students with challenging behavior is an ongoing process for everyone.

Prepare for the Audience

  • Find out who will be in the audience.
  • Expect a broad range of knowledge and experience in any group. Every group needs time spent on the key ideas. You will want to include more examples and activities around the key ideas if your audience does not understand or to build buy-in to concepts.
  • Your case studies, stories and examples need to reflect the age level and special education eligibility (if applicable) of the students your audience serves. Primary teachers hate to only hear about high school student behaviors and vice versa.
  • If possible/appropriate, talk to several people who will be attending and find out what they want from the workshop.

Prepare for the Training

  • Develop realistic outcomes based on the time frame you have for the training.
  • Identify active learning activities that fit into your time frame. For a 60-minute training, frequently divide participants into dyads and give them 2 minutes to discuss a key point you just presented.
  • Design Power Point slides that you want to use. Look at cartoons or personal stories that illustrate key ideas.
  • Gather handouts that you want to use. Most people like to have copies of the slides. Number the pages to make it easy for your audience to find during your presentation.
  • Make notes to remind yourself what you want to say for each slide.
  • Make a list of things you need to have with you for the training: chart paper, markers, tape, etc.
  • Become comfortable with technology you are using: Power Point, videos, speakers, etc. Test out any videos to make sure they play, you can access sound, etc.

Prepare the Handouts

  • Spell Check, Spell Check, Spell Check!
  • Provide a cover sheet with date and title.
  • Make sure the copies are professional looking and clear. Sloppy handouts (however good the content) will devalue your message.
  • Number the pages for easy reference. Refer to the handouts by page number during the presentation
  • Provide reference list for any sources you will be using in the training.
  • Get permission from the author for anything you are using written or developed by someone else.
  • Make guided notes pages for key information with space for participants to take notes.
  • Make sure you plan to walk the participants through what is included in the handout, especially reference articles and other resources you will not be specifically using during the training.

Facilitating and Presenting the Training

  • Start to build rapport. Be there as participants arrive - mingle, chat, have a cup of coffee and start to learn their names.
  • Begin with an activity to get the participants actively involved. Choose an icebreaker [future link to active learning strategies, topic resources].
  • Introduce yourself with a slide. Include your experience. Sharing short story related to the topic that was a success or failure that you learned from can be a good way to establish rapport and give the message that "We are all in this together".
  • Your body language is important. Maintain eye contact with the group. Avoid "fiddling" with paperclips or markers. If possible, move around instead of only standing behind a podium.
  • Some of your participants may have prior knowledge or experiences which differ from the content you are presenting. It is important that you don't embarrass them, so be sensitive to their feelings when they make contributions to the group that point out their gaps in understanding. For example, try saying "Do you think the function of Kai's behavior could be..." instead of saying, "You're wrong."
  • Establishing ground rules will help to prevent problems later in the training. Explain that ground rules will help everyone use time efficiently and get the most out of the activities. You can present a slide with two or three that you will reinforce throughout the training or have them posted on a chart for all to see. It may be helpful to have them prioritize your list or make additions. Some common rules to consider are:
    • Be punctual - breaks, lunch, group work
    • Keep on task - avoid side conversations
    • Respect different points of view
    • Let everyone have a turn to speak
  • Be sensitive to group energy level and comfort needs. Be open to leading a stretch break or have cartoons available to change the pace for a few minutes.
  • Use a variety of media, but remember not to read the slides or handout material. Face the audience - not the screen or chart.
  • Anticipate questions and be prepared with additional examples. If you don't know the answer: either admit that you don't know the answer, but will find out; or, ask if anyone in the audience can answer the question; or, write the question on a chart to be answered later.
  • Stop action techniques - When your participants are not responding or you can tell are not engaged in the training, try one of the following techniques to clear the air so the group can move forward:
    • What word, emotion, and/or image best describes this situation?
    • What's happening right now for people?
    • Write two adjectives that describe how we are doing?
    • We have lost much of our energy; what do we need to do now?
    • Right now I...
    • On a scale of 1 to 10, how is it going in here right now?
    • Do a whip. Go around the room 'round robin' style and share responses.
    • Take a 15-minute break. Re-focus the activity.
  • Evaluation
    • Frequently ask people how they are doing with questions such as: How are we doing? Does that make sense? How are you feeling? Am I going too fast? You can do thumbs up or down for a quick group 'pulse.'

Involving the Audience

  • Brainstorming
    • Allow anyone to pass.
    • Get their ideas on post-it notes to put on chart paper. Assign someone to chart as ideas are presented.
    • Post the products of brainstorming charts on the walls and add to them as the training progresses.
  • Active Learning
    • Carefully choose activities that fit your group and time frame. It is a big mistake not to give enough time for the participants to complete the activity or give too much time so people are wandering around.
    • Make the instructions clear and simple. It can be a great help to have tasks written down on slides so everyone can see them clearly and can refer to them throughout the activity.
    • Value the things participants do. Even when they get things wrong, don't make them feel their efforts were in vain. Celebrate their successes when they do things correctly or well.
    • Be alert for groups having difficulty. Monitor the groups as they are working and be prepared with suggestions to get them unstuck. This means you must be very familiar with possible responses to every part of the task. If there are others helping you with the training, make sure they understand they are expected to facilitate when the participants are working in groups.


Originally created by Alice Curtis, presented at PENT Summit 2003. Adapted here to ensure accessibility.