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The Training Formula


Does anyone have a formula for the number of preparation to delivery hours? I was recently quoted by a colleague that the "industry standard" is 1 day preparation to 3 days delivery.
Janice Carter

9 Responses

  1. preparation time
    Hi Janice

    Can’t give you a straight answer I’m afraid. It depends on what needs to be prepared, whether design is involved etc. If it’s just getting materials ready, it might only be a couple of hours if you just need to photocopy. If you are talking about designing from scratch then obviously it will take much longer. Do you need to prepare the venue? Do you need to buy anything or is everything available?

    As a tip, at the front of my session notes, I always have a sheet of paper with everything on it that I need to do for that event. This involves things I need to buy (sweets & mints for example), which handouts I need to copy/print, what equipment I need etc. It acts as a checklist and stops me forgetting the basics such as marker pens and blutac!

    Hope this helps


  2. Training formula – it depends
    Hi Janice
    I have never heard of 1:3 before – 3:1 yes!

    It depends on a number of factors:
    1) how much core competency you have in the topic material
    2) is the delivery style chalk & talk or accelerated learning?
    3) is this a ‘soft skill’ or a technical – if technical how technical?

    If you have to design a 3 day training course on a new piece of software for a company system – it may take 4 weeks prep for a one day course!

    Unfortunatly this is a case of how long is a piece of string.

    If you can answer the above questions I am sure you will get a more solid set of answers to present back to the person who is setting the ‘standard’

    Don’t be bullied – do a great job!

  3. furhterance of Mike’s comment
    Hi Janice

    I’ve only heard the 1:3 figure once; from a manager whose belief was…

    “Anyone can write a training course…just braindump everything you know about the subject onto basic PowerPoint slides and then you can read it to the delegates”

    I’ll let you conclude how effective that is as a method!

    I agree with Mike that it depends on many factors but I generally reckon, for me in my arena, on a 1:1 or 2:1 prep to delivery ratio.

    For the purposes of your department remember also that if A writes it but B is going to deliver it then B will need time to prepare him/herself with the material.

    Hope this helps

  4. Depends on…
    It seems to me that it depends on delivery medium and style.

    For example, good quality CD-ROM or DVD based or eLearning content is probably 200:1 i.e. 200 hrs for 1 hr of delivery. You’ve got video to shoot, voice overs to do, animations to build etc. It could even be 10 times higher!

    For an interactive session on Myers Briggs Type Indicator I ran some years ago it was 15 mins of prep for 3.5 hrs delivery. BUT, I knew my subject very well, had lots of previus experience of using MBTI and educating people about it AND I’d started exploring accelerated learning so was using techniques from this field to accelerate design. Why such a short preparation stage? No manuals and handouts to produce – that’s about consumption. AL is about creating learning – getting the learners to create their own learning, hence little need for manuals etc….



  5. Development Ratios
    It depends…(trainers fav answer to any question!).
    If you are starting off with a new requirement, no previous material and starting from scratch AND you are looking to design & develop a course that will have a long life and be delivered by different people AND it will have interactive participative exercises etc…

    Many training providers will quote anything from 10:1 to 40:1 prep to delivery (no I am NOT joking). Think about it, to meet defined quality standards, you must do the research, prepare the course/session aim and objectives, develop the key learning points then gather appropriate elements together into ‘content packages’ write the persentation material, write the lesson plan and speaking notes, develop the exercises and document the likely outcomes as part of the trainers brief/.delivery pack. Then you need to write any course/session handouts and get the whole lot proof read.

    You still arn’t ready to deliver…you should pilot the event, carry out a proper peer review and make any necessary changes. By now of course you will also have established your evaluation strategy and developed the event reaction sheets etc.

    After a final review you’re ready to deliver…after the marketing has been completed!

    Of course you don’t have to follow the Systematic approach in full (see the BS Standard on the Systematic Approach, or e-mail me for my draft copy).

    So it depends…I have successfully delivered a session with only five mins prep…

    Generally industry seems to work around 5 to 10:1 where existing material is present and the subject is understood, and from 20:1 to 40:1 for the full process…if you are bidding for work, you will have to choose carefully!

    1 Regards

    p.s. The design of e-learning is very different and can take many times longer, the IES have produced some good work on this see Exploring e-Learning Report no. 376.

  6. Do an Activity Log
    I agree with many of the comments already made and I suspect that the actual time for design is rather more than we ever quote as trainers. Equally, prep time. Does that include all the printing and collation of manuals etc.
    A colleague (an auditor with a work-study background!!) suggested I either kept an activity log as I started to develop a programme or simply listed all the activities I needed to do to prepare and allocate sensible time estimates to them. I haven’t done it yet but I’ll bet the result is rather scary!

    Design requires creativity and innovation, even if you already have some basic material and that takes time to make it good. I agree – don’t be bullied.

  7. more time and achieve
    I agree with the previous comments. I teach and coach on training prep. as well as deliver; and have to remind them of the time it takes to think through the design of the session even before anything is down on paper or screen! And don’t forget the practice. very easy to get bullied into less time. Negotiiate high and achieve, agree low and be poorly evaluated.
    Good luck

  8. Training preparation time
    In my experience as an Adult Trainer for a variety of training sessins or courses, I would favout the 1 to 3 ration, that being for every hour of effective training takes at LEAST 3 hour preparation for you.

  9. Be wary…
    I would further add that ratios of prep to delivery (depands what you mean by prep!!) of much more than 1:1 suggest to me that core tennets of accelerated learning are being ignored.

    The emphasis on developing slides, manuals, etc is generally seen in the AL community as being about CONSUMPTION – developing materials that are to be consumed by the learner, instead of putting the effort in to developing & facilitating the learning experience. Also, buyers of these courses tend to be impressed by large manuals and the implication of getting lots for your money – an interesting way to evaluate the training!!!

    I’ve taken less than 20 mins to prep a 4 hour MBTI session – one of the best I’ve ever done judging by the feedback I got – but I already knew the material, I just changed the focus from me and the material to the learners and their experience.

    Get them to do all the work!!

    Would I charge for my time in getting to know the material? NO!! I should know this already. Unless it’s a contract delivery job – which I don’t do as a rule.

    Good luck,



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