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December 13, 2004
Freshening Stale Training Topics and Materials

If your training materials put YOU to sleep, think how your audience feels. Let's face it; there are probably one or more safety talks you've given so many times that you dream about them at night. So for the sake of both your audience and your own sanity, maybe it's time to give a makeover to these topics and their associated materials. It can be done without a major investment of either time or money.

Begin with an objective audit of your materials. Try to view them as though you have never seen them before, or ask a colleague for a brutally honest assessment. Two main areas to look at are:

  • Content and relevance: Does the content of your handouts and other training materials, including visual aids, match your oral presentation? Is the information accurate and up to date? Or perhaps the information is technically correct but really doesn't address the actual safety issues in your own workplace. Revise or replace anything that misses the mark.
  • Overall appearance: Visual appeal can do a lot. Your handouts, for example--do they look like copies of copies of copies, with washed-out, distorted print? Maybe it's time to redo them to make them more readable. While you're at it, maybe you can add a little color or some graphics to your handouts, as well as your overhead slides, to make them more eye-catching and to heighten interest.
Why It Matters...
  • Periodically reviewing your training materials helps make sure the information stays timely and accurate.
  • Approaching a familiar topic in a different way can reveal important safety points that may have been overlooked in the past.
  • Trainers must be engaged with their topics before they can expect their audiences to pay close attention or retain key information.

Change for the sake of change can be a good thing. Try experimenting and even having a little fun with presentations that have gone stale, as long as you don't leave out important information. Some possible ideas for shaking off the cobwebs:

  • Rearrange the outline of your presentation so that the main points are made in a different order than the one you typically use.
  • Give a brief quiz at the BEGINNING of the session--this helps reveal what the audience already knows and doesn't know about the topic, so you can tailor your presentation accordingly.
  • Similarly, ask for questions from the audience BEFORE the session starts; for example, ask them to tell you the three things they really want to know about the topic, and use this information as the main focus of the presentation.
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