Table of Contents

10 questions to ask when designing a training program

It's tempting to jump right into design, but asking a few questions before you start designing a training can save a lot of time and prevent headaches.
Brian reading what's your formula

If you’re anything like me, anytime a training request comes your way, you’ll be tempted to jump right in. “Ok, what’s the topic? What should people be able to do? Great, leave it to me, I’ll come up with something amazing!”

There are, however, some additional questions we should be asking before we jump into the development of a training program. Depending on the answers to these questions to ask when designing a training program, perhaps training isn’t going to be the best solution after all.

If you’re looking for a description of the entire Analysis phase of learning development,
you might like this article focused on what to expect from the Analysis phase.

Here are ten questions you may want to ask the next time a training project comes your way:

1. What’s the title or topic?

This should be the easiest question of all, but if the person requesting the training doesn’t have an answer for this one, proceed with extreme caution!

2. What would be an executive summary or an elevator speech you’d give to someone who asked what this training is about?

The intent here is to get a better understanding of what this training could cover.

3. What’s the need for this training program or what problem/challenge are you trying to solve?

The answer to this question can help in several areas: 1) It can help determine if training is the right solution and 2) It can help define “success” for this project in a big picture sense.

4. Why now?

Training is about change – changing behaviors, helping employees do something new or differently or better. The first step to change management (at least according to John Kotter) is to establish a sense of urgency, which means “why now?” is a very important question to help bring about change.

5. What would happen if this training was never created/offered?

This is a bit of a sanity check to make sure this training program would be necessary. If there’s not a strong answer here, then perhaps something else – maybe a job aid, maybe better awareness of existing resources, maybe nothing at all – would be a better solution.

6. Who is the target audience?

This helps narrow the scope and can have a big impact on the content and how it’s delivered. Is this for supervisors? Executives? Frontline staff who may not have a lot of down time?

7. What resistance could the audience have to being told they’ll need to take this training?

To answer this question, someone will need to put themselves in the shoes of the target audience and will ideally answer this question with “I” statements as if they were talking with the voice of someone in the intended audience. “I don’t have time.” “I already know this stuff.”

8. A year from now, if someone was to walk up to you and say: “Wow, that training initiative was sooooooooo successful!” What evidence would they be giving to you to indicate this was indeed successful?

This is what my colleague calls “the money question”. This question gets to the heart of what success for the program should be, and more importantly, how to measure it.

9. By the end of this training program, what specifically should the learners be able to do?

This question gets into your learning objectives. If someone wants the learners to “know” something or “understand” something, try to dig deeper. They should know or understand something so that… what? Why should they know or understand something? What should they do with that knowledge or understanding?

10. Where and who will the content come from?

Perhaps there are some resources that offer good content. Making sure you have names and contact information for SMEs or other people with intimate knowledge of the subject at hand can be very helpful to make sure you have true-to-life examples that can be turned into case studies, scenarios or other activities that help turn content from theory to something more concrete.

Obviously a list of 10 questions isn’t exhaustive, but it will get you started, and these questions should help you to determine if training is even the right solution. If you have additional questions, I’d love to hear what I may have missed in the comment section.

Are you interested in what to do with what you learn from these questions? Try a demo of Soapbox.

Articles Similar to 10 questions to ask when designing a training program

games for learning with karl kapp
Brian Washburn

Getting Started with Game Design for Learning

Karl Kapp has written 8 books, created 11 LinkedIn Learning courses and has an entire YouTube channel devoted to game and game design. Today on the podcast, he spends some time talking about how to bring game elements into learning.

Social Media
Brian Washburn

Is it possible to learn from other people via social media?

It’s pretty easy to find thought leaders in our field by scrolling through Twitter or LinkedIn. Lately, it seems like people are increasingly wanting to be heard, and doing a lot less hearing. This week’s podcast guest, Lauren Hug, has some thoughts about this.

Heather Barry

1 Activity, 3 Delivery Modalities: Elimination Game

In this series of blog posts, we take one training activity, and convert it into three delivery modalities: Instructor-Led Training (ILT), Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), and Elearning. Several learning outcomes

What new skills can be mastered in a 60-minute webinar?

Job aids can be an essential tool used to follow up a training program and to help learners put new skills or practices into action. However, if the learner hasn’t mastered how to use the job aid, you may need to supplement the job aid with some samples.

what is training for? betty dannewitz & kassy laborie
Brian Washburn

What is training good for?

Virtual training expert Kassy Laborie and Augmented Reality expert Betty Dannewitz drop by this week’s podcast to discuss what “training” is for, and they got into a heated game of training trivia to wrap up the episode.

Subscribe to Get Updates from Endurance Learning

Brian Washburn, Author

Brian Washburn
CEO & Chief Ideas Guy

Enter your information below and we’ll send you the latest updates from our blog. Thanks for following!

Download the What's Possible in L&D Worksheet

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the What’s Possible in L&D Worksheet.

What's possible in L&D

Let's Talk Training!

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn
CEO & Chief Ideas Guy

Enter your information below and we’ll get back to you soon.

Download the Feedback Lesson Plan

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the lesson plan as a PDF.

feedback lesson plan
MS Word Job Aid Template

Download the Microsoft Word Job Aid Template

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the Word version of this template.

Download the Free Lesson Plan Template!

Enter your email below and we’ll send you a Word document that you can start using today!

free lesson plan template
training materials checklist

Download the Training Materials Checklist

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the Training Materials Checklist.

Subscribe to Endurance Learning for updates

Get regular updates from the Endurance Learning team.