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Planning a course


To develop successful training courses you need a combination of skills and expertise. Good logistical planning is one of the most crucial aspects of training delivery. If your participants are not comfortable physically and at ease psychologically, they will not benefit fully from the training content. The first step in planning logistics for training is to develop a timetable. Set out what needs to happen by what date and assign responsibility for each task. Remember that there will always be occasions when you have little or no control over some or all of the logistics, in which case it is best to be flexible and work with your participants to make the best of the situation.

Sample checklist

Venues and classrooms

One of the most important factors in successful training is the venue or room in which the training is conducted. It is vital to choose your training venue well and, especially if you do not have much choice, to get the most out of the space you are working in. If there is no possibility of checking the venue in person beforehand, it is advisable to get to the venue early on the day of the training to sort out any problems.

Do not be afraid to reorganise furniture, open or shut windows and doors as necessary to ensure that participants are comfortable. If they are too hot or too cold, can hear outside noise, are sitting on hard chairs or chairs that are too soft their concentration may not be good.

Questions to ask

  1. How many rooms will you need?
  2. Do you need break out or syndicate rooms for small group work and discussions?
  3. What size should the rooms be?
  4. What is the furniture like — do participants have somewhere to rest to write? Are the chairs comfortable?
  5. What is the best way to arrange the furniture — lecture style, around a large table, a circle of chairs?

Factors which affect the participants’ comfort

Training equipment

When planning training you need to make sure that you and your guest speakers have the necessary equipment to support your presentations. Check with the venue before booking and make sure that you have put your equipment requirements in writing.

Even if you have planned well and the venue is a reliable one, equipment can go wrong and let you down. Well in advance of the training day you should make sure your files are compatible with the hardware and software at the venue. Computer equipment is particularly prone to performance failure, so you need to check early on the day itself that the equipment works. It is a good idea to make sure you can reach a technician quickly to help solve any technical difficulties. It is important to have a back-up plan and to take along extra materials. If you have handouts you can speak to a handout instead of the OHPs. If the data projector equipment is not working, back-up overheads can be vital. If you are planning a video presentation you may need to talk through the programme and draw out the lesson that way.

Equipment checklist

Breaks and catering

Scheduling and timing breaks and making sure that the catering and other facilities are adequate is essential for successful training. Whilst it is possible to serve lunch in the training room, it is usually better to have lunch in a different space — particularly as delivery of the food and crockery can be distracting and if the remains are not promptly cleared away, this can add unpleasant odours to the training room.

Choice of food can also be very important to the participants’experience. You will need to assess in some way (perhaps with a tick box on the application form) whether there are any special dietary needs. You may want to select some vegetarian food as a matter of course but if you have participants that require kosher, vegan or glutan-free food you will want to cater for them too. There are some other important choices to make about catering.

Questions to ask

  1. Do you want a formal sit-down meal?
  2. Do you want a buffet meal?
  3. Will you serve alcohol?
  4. Will the food be hot or cold?
  5. Will the food be light or heavy?
  6. When do you want tea and coffee served — in particular do you want tea and coffee as people arrive?

You will need to work out where the men’s and women’s toilets are and let the class know at the beginning of the course. Similarly, you should tell them where they may smoke in the breaks. It is also good practice to tell the class where the fire escapes are and the drill in the event of an emergency such as fire including the assembly point.

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Last updated: 20 December 2005