How much a learner gets out of training has a lot to do with how much a trainer puts into it. In addition, learners tend to appreciate training more when they feel what they are learning is valuable to them in some way. So before you begin a training session, consider what you can do to make it a valuable learning experience for your learners, then incorporate those ideas into your course.

It's always good to put yourself in learners' shoes. If you were going to attend the same training being taught by someone else, what would you hope to get out of it? With that in mind, you can tailor your training to focus more on the learner and not just the material. Of course, people are different and learn differently; many will undoubtedly differ in what is considered valuable. Nevertheless, the key for you as a new trainer is to be cognizant of learners' differences and find various ways to effectively reach and teach others. Tips on how you can do this are to set goals to ADD VALUE to your training.

A = Association--Establish it

Connect or link training to what is familiar to the learner or to what he already knows. Learning is often enhanced when the learner can somehow make a connection to the information being received. You can establish an association through the use of familiar phrases, analogies, illustrations, examples, or even metaphoric expressions. However, before you try to make an association be sure it is positive and appropriate for your training audience. For instance, if you are teaching older adults who are having difficulty learning something, it is neither wise nor recommended to say "They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks." The goal is to enhance learning, not to create potential barriers.

D = Dedication--Give it

Your level of dedication can indirectly add value. You will have occasions when someone requires more assistance or time beyond the actual training periods. Sometimes that extra attention may be needed or requested during lunch breaks or after training has ended. This is when your level of dedication can be an integral turning point to the learner. Spending extra time with someone may be what triggers a meaningful learning experience for the learner.

D = Debrief--Discuss it

A debrief is a group discussion that gives learners a chance to communicate, share opinions, or ask and answer questions on what they learned or experienced. Here they can tell you if the training experience went well or not, if improvements should be made, or what could be changed.

V = Variation--Include it

What works for one person won't necessarily work for another. Variations in your training approach allow you to address learning differences. Include different training techniques that attract a variety of learners and learning styles. Some people may learn well just from hearing you talk, others may be more visual and need to see what you're talking about, and some may learn best by doing. Your training will be valued more if you blend various methods that appeal to these differences.

A = Application--Allow it

It is important to give student the opportunity to apply what they learn. It is often more effective for learners to do something themselves, particularly if the training involves performing tasks. To ensure that optimal learning takes place, allow time for relevant practice, activities, and exercises to give learners a chance to apply new skills in class.

L = Learn--Continue it

Most people who are experts in their fields invest significant time and effort in improving their craft. There is an abundance of information available for training practitioners on training techniques, learning styles, theories, and principles. If you really want to add value to your training then take the time to learn more than just the training material--learn about training itself. The more you continue to learn, the more valuable your training sessions will be.

U = Usefulness--Convey it

Talk with your learners early on and throughout the training about how the learning may be useful. To do this, try to give relevant examples of how specific training content can be beneficial to them or ask if anyone could share an example of how they see value in what they have already learned. Helping learners answer the question, What's in it for me?, will open their eyes to your training session's value and encourage them to stay engaged.

E = Engage--Do it

To stimulate learning, actively engage your learners. Training shouldn't consist of you standing up lecturing to an audience. If you only lecture and do not allow learners a chance to participate, then actual learning may be minimal and the course will be boring for some. You can engage the learners with group activities like games and roles plays, or with individual exercises and questions.

There's no doubt that your learning audiences will vary with every training session. But to make your training an effective and valuable experience for you and your learners, remember to always strive to ADD VALUE to your training.