Time: it can go so fast or it can go way too slow in a training session.
Have you ever had a situation where time has just gotten away from you and you haven’t been able to cover all the content that you had planned for your session? Well, don’t worry. It can happen to the best of us! But so can the opposite as well. Too much time and not enough planned for the session.
As a trainer, time management is a critical skill that you must master in order to get the most out of your training sessions. Unfortunately though, many people find that they are at the mercy of time and not in control of the time that they have.
I thought that since we are coming up to the end of the year and time is ‘running out’ (excuse the pun) it might be an opportune time to share with you all some of the Top 10 Time Management tools and techniques that I personally use within a training session so that you can get the most out of your sessions in 2015. These can be broken down into two categories, planning tips and delivery tips:
Set clear and realistic outcomes for your session. Know your outcome and set a clear path. This will help you stay on target and avoid going off on tangents. Always reread your outcome before you ever start a session.
Be conservative with your planning. Plan as much you want to get through in your training session and then delete half of it. This will do two things. It will set realistic goals and allow for extra practice time, but will also mean that IF you have time left over you will have extra activities/content you can go into if required.
In your session, plan and allocate appropriate timing for each of your activities, and allow considerations for both fast learners and slower learners and be realistic. Not everyone progresses at the same pace.
Trial your activities with a friend, or even yourself so that you have a general idea of the time required as you are putting your training plan together.
When setting up your room, make sure that there is NO clock visible to students. Some people might think this is a bit strange, however you would probably agree that students’ moods, attention spans and outputs can often be related to the ‘time’ of the day and if students are hanging out for lunch or for the end of the day, you will get less and less learning out of them. So as a rule I will ALWAYS remove the clock in a training room.
Practice delivering content in 1 min, 5 min, 10 min, 60 min blocks. This will help you become time aware and will also help you to train your mind to think in chunks and blocks of time. Remember it is more important what people retain than how much content you get through.
Have three clocks with you always. This can be whatever you personally prefer, however I will generally have a big clock which is hidden under a table so that only I can see it, I will also have a stop watch and I will also have my own watch. This means that regardless of where I am in the room I can be aware of the time and also have a backup if one clock stops working. Oh, and believe me, it happens.
Always allocate time to every activity that you set your students. Some trainers have a funny habit of setting an activity but not letting the students know how long they have for the activity. This can be very unnerving for a student as they want to know how much time, energy and effort to put into the activity. It also sets productivity criteria and boundaries in place. So for any activity that you provide to your students, make sure that you tell them how long they have, e.g. 5 mins, 10 mins, 15 mins or however long it might be.
Balance student question time with content progress. There can often be an urge to answer student questions on the spot and provide as much assistance as required in the moment. However taking questions effectively takes discipline. If done incorrectly (i.e. too much time is spent on one question) it can eat away at your time for other activities. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’ll answer that for you at break time”, or “Can you write that question down and we will discuss it tomorrow?” Or even more practically, allocate specific time for questions at the end of your session and assure students that their questions will be answered during that time.
Be flexible with your time. We can be as stringent as we need to be, but nobody really likes a time Nazi. So if you think a group needs extra time with an activity, give them an extra few minutes, if you see a class finding an activity quite easy, wrap it up sooner and transition into the next activity. Never stay on one activity, just for the sake of it.
Plenty Training RTO number 32371