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Facilitating Training

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When it’s your job to ensure training co-ordinators get the best out of their training sessions, it can often be stressful. No matter what the size of the group or the theme of the day, the pressure’s always on to make sure the training event hits the spot. Joanna England offers some insight into the common pitfalls involved in organising a training event.


Speak to the trainer
It’s helpful to remember that everyone has their own style. For example, some might like to sit whereas others prefer to stand. The trainer’s preferences can often be forgotten in favour of the trainees, but since they’re the ones conducting the session, ask them how they would like to work. The trainer needs to know exactly what to expect when they walk into the room. If expectations aren’t met you could end-up with some unwanted disruption and a flustered presenter. Keep your trainer in the loop, so they can point out any issues as they appear on the horizon.

On the inside
Doing a quick drive-by of a venue is never recommended in place of a scheduled viewing. The venue might not be exactly what you are expecting. Obviously the space should be big enough for everyone who is scheduled to attend and accommodate any planned activities like role plays, demonstrations and break-out sessions. There are other things that may not be included in the literature such as number of power points, access times and loading bays.

The ambiance of the room is also important. For lectures, a window-less theatre may be adequate but for more interactive sessions you will need a bright room. When visiting the venue find out about the all-important health and safety and fire evacuation procedures. Finally, don’t forget to pass on this information to all the parties involved in the training event!

Don’t go hungry
There are always people who are forgotten when counting the numbers for the catering. It may sound silly, but more often than not, it’s the trainers themselves! Remember to count the people who will be ‘working’ the event including you, for example, your team and services providers such as audio-visual professionals.

Take account of any dietary requirements as well. This includes allergies and religious restrictions as well as vegetarians and vegans. Remember to ask all people involved to let you know what they can’t eat. While it’s the caterer’s responsibility to deliver the food safely and on time, they must be given the right information well in advance make sure everything’s spot on.

Gadgets and gizmos
When you are speaking to your trainer, make sure you understand what equipment is needed. This may include laptops and projectors, flipcharts or a PA system. It may even include a dressing up box and some pillows. In either instance, make sure you know where to get everything you need. With regards to the more conventional, your venue provider will certainly be able to help, if they don’t offer it already. Make sure you include equipment and extras in your budget so you don’t get a nasty surprise when the quote comes in.

From pen to paper
Much like feeding your trainers, stationary is another factor that is often overlooked. Find out what is required i.e pens, notepads, flipchart paper, staplers etc in advance. The venue itself will often provide the basics but you shouldn’t expect them to have everything. At the time of booking, make the conference office aware of your requirements and see what they can and cannot provide. Even if the trainees have been asked to bring supplies, it is always prudent to carry extras, just in case.

From A to B
Travel arrangements are a key consideration, not only in the selection of the venue but also when communicating with all attendees. Make sure you ask your venue for information on all travel routes including train and bus timetables and road access. Providing such information to the trainers, trainees and support staff will ensure that the event can start and end as scheduled. Also, it may sound silly, but check the transport on the day of the event in case of any major delays. It may make sense to delay the start of the event in favour of more convenient travel arrangement. Finally, if people intend to drive, make sure that sufficient local parking is available on the day and let everyone know where it is.

Space to work, rest and play
If you need extra space for breakout rooms, make sure you book these when booking the rest of the venue. Also, in aid of saving time on the day, make sure they are not too far away from the main room. You may also want to consider some ‘downtime’ space where people can chat and relax. Make sure internet is available too. Taking time out of the office can be made easier by internet being available in between sessions so attendees can check email.

Finally, do you need accommodation? Ask your venue providers to suggest places to stay if they don’t have rooms on site. They are likely to have negotiated great rates with local hotels for their clients.

If you ask, you get
As a final piece of advice, let me suggest that if you need any advice on the event – ask your venue providers. They have been through this same process a number of times with other clients and may be able to offer you valuable insight. This is particularly the case with local advice – suppliers, transport etc – they will be happy to help you find the people you need. When you work with a venue provider, you don’t just get the space, you get experienced and willing support as well.


* About the author:Joanna England is Centre Manager for the Culham Conference Centre and can be contacted on 01235 466494.

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