Leaving on a Jet Plane

Posted by Alana Kadden Ballon on Aug 19, 2013

153188829If you’re like me, you feel like you’re always on an airplane. You start planning a trip weeks or months beforehand, and your inbox and calendar hold confirmation numbers, scheduling details, flight information, and appointment dates and times. Knowing where you are going and what you’ll do there informs what you need to bring.

I sit in yet another airport, it occurs to me that our work with clients is not unlike the preparation for a trip. Here are the steps that we go through as we prepare for a training program to take flight.

When we work with clients, we go through the following steps:

1) Planning

How do you decide what you want in a vacation? You think about the time of year, how you want to feel (relaxed, active), and your budget.  Creating a training is similar: we work with our clients in a discovery process to understand the outcome of their ideal training, including:

  • Why are they engaging in this training?
  • When it is completed, what will their team be able to do?
  • Who will be there?
  • What skills do the trainees already have?
  • What does the client picture happening throughout the day(s) of the training?
  • Have they conducted this sort of training before? Were they satisfied with the results? Why or why not?

The answers to these questions help us create a training that truly speaks to the client’s unique purpose, vision, and the delta between where they are now and where they want to be.

2) Itinerary

We outline a prospective training plan based on what we’ve learned. This includes a comprehensive vision for the training: content, activities, where it should be held, facilitation, duration, and assessment (how we’ll measure training’s success).

Sometimes the plan we propose to our client is different than what they were expecting. If you imagined a beach vacation in Hawaii and your spouse proposes Thailand, you might be surprised; even upset. We review their expressed goals and talk through how we arrived at our recommendations, and do some wiggling to find the solution that works with their resources to best fill their needs.

We work together to finalize the itinerary, then it is time to get packing!

3) Packing Your Bags

Based on the objectives of the training and the itinerary, work with our clients to create the content for their training sessions. Packing a roller bag, you tick through the categories of attire needed: underwear, socks, gym clothes, work outfits, casual evening outfits, shoes, travel toiletries, your laptop. Maybe you keep a list somewhere to make this process efficient.

We go through a similar process to make sure that we provide an engaging variety of activities that are appropriate for the content, location and desired outcome. The activities serve as a way to apply the knowledge, giving participants a chance to test it out. We also want to make sure to engage visual, audio, and kinesthetic learners, introverts, extroverts and mesoverts. And we always create: a list of what materials you need to have on-hand, a student workbook and an instructor guide (think: travel guide) to make the training a success! While each training is unique, our templates and already-developed programs serve as a generalized packing list, helping us make the most of our allotted hours.

4) Out The Door

Training, like travel, is expensive: you want to make the most of it.  Through years of practice (and lots of mistakes!) I’ve just about perfected the process for getting to the plane: streamlining kisses goodbye, transporting myself to the airport, traversing security… these days, I feel prepared for any travel blips that might come my way.

But if you’re presenting at a training, you don’t want to do that practicing and mistake-making in front of your trainees. Too many times, we’ve seen leaders who are not accustomed to conducting trainings try to wing it, leaving their team wondering what the message was.

Steve Jobs used to practice his keynotes hundreds of times before delivering them to the world; business presenters can do it at least once. Otherwise, it’s as though you forgot your toiletries in the security bin and went to the wrong concourse… in front of your entire team.

5) Wheels Down

We all know that arriving at your destination can bring a slew of unanticipated zigs and zags to our travel plans. But with sound goals, proper planning, a well-packed bag, and lots of practice, you’ll be able to roll with the punches and pull off an amazing training.

6) Don’t Forget to Write Home!

How do you make sure you remember the training, making sure that it has a lasting impact?

  • Plan a survey to capture the feedback from your team: their feelings and thoughts about how the training went. It will help you improve for the next round.
  • Implement the planned assessments or certifications to measure what your team has learned. It will help you build the ROI needed to get approval for your next training adventure!