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What happens after a training session?

A participant walks up to you after your training session, smiles, and says: “Thank you. That was by far the best training session I’ve ever been to. I have to tell you, I’ve been to a lot of these sessions and I didn’t have high hopes for this session, but my boss told me I had to be here. I wasn’t looking forward to it. But now I’m so glad I came.”

As long as you’ve made your content relevant for your audience and have designed opportunities for engagement, a comment like this may not be uncommon.

But what happens next?

Two people I respect very much in the learning and development space, Nancy Bacon and Mark Nilles, recently published a short eBook for conference planners on how to design a more effective conference. I think there are some key lessons in there for anyone who works in the training space. 

I was particularly drawn to Chapter 4: Make it stick: Post-conference activities. What struck me most was how you can replace the word “conference” with “training session” and most of the ideas hold true.

In this chapter, Nancy and Mark describe three activities you can take to reinforce the learning after the event:

  1. Implement a booster program
  2. Offer post-conference discussion groups
  3. Incentivize blogging by participants

I’ve long-maintained that training should be a process, not an event. By engaging any of the activities that Nancy and Mark describe in this chapter (and selecting the appropriate approach depends on both your audience as well as your available bandwidth to continue engaging your participants after the event), your participants have access to post-event support to put their new learnings into action. Without this support, the odds that key learnings are effectively put into action decrease dramatically.

Whether you’re a training designer or a conference planner, I recommend giving Nancy and Mark’s eBook a read. It’s short (only about 30 pages). Then come back here and let me know what you think and how you think it might be applied to your world.

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