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How to design and run community training that works (05 Jul 17)

You may know what you want to achieve – and how. But your residents are the determining factor

At the heart of everything you do are the people you are doing it for. Your residents and their communities.


You can plan, dream up and work on as many ideas as you as you like, but unless you train and motivate them well they can’t or won’t participate fully in their communities or influence local services. 


Training is tricky at the best of times. But you have to think about a host of extra things with residents. That’s why they can be amongst the most demanding and challenging training audiences.


They will often have very different levels, abilities and confidence. Their attention spans will vary, as will their ability to handle complex information.


Their reasons for attending can vary, too. Some may wish to represent their communities better, others to voice their dissatisfaction with their service providerslandlord. So their expectations of workshops can differ wildly.  


Happily, you can deploy a host of simple techniques to help you succeed. It’s just a case of knowing what they are and when to use them. 


For example, how you introduce any training course is absolutely vital as it is your chance to bring everybody up to speed.


And so be at the same level as soon as possible. 


Knowing what residents want out of your training is utterly crucial as well. Well-meaning staff who are not expert trainers often let their enthusiasm run away with them. They want to tell their audience absolutely everything they know about a subject. So they end up preparing too much material and swamping their audience.

This problem is often made even worse by their worrying that they’ll run out of things to say and not be able to fill up the time.


You can avoid this simply.


Just put yourself in your delegates’ shoes before you start preparing. Find out what they really want to know, what their questions and worries are. You then check your materials and presentation against this.


Planning is vital – and there is a simple rule of thumb to guide you. Just look at how long you have to deliver your material. It should take at least 3 times that time to get your thoughts in order, collect information, prepare notes and materials – and rehearse.


There are few things worse than being about to start your training – and realising you are just not quite ready, but the audience is. Careful planning and preparation are particularly important in training tenants as you need to make complex ideas easy to understand and present them in bite sized chunks.


Training of residents brings other special challenges, some of which can be almost terrifying for the inexperienced. I am sure you can identify with at least one of these:


  • People who only want to talk about their own opinions and problems
  • Aggressive or disruptive participants
  • Delegates who simply don’t want to be there
  • Offensive behaviour that goes against your organisation’s Equal Opportunities policy 
  • The session goes off the rails and disintegrates into chaos – what do you do?

Many officer’s rate training residents as the most important part of their jobs.


One reason is that it can be deeply rewarding, when workshops are successful and taken so seriously.


Yet paradoxically, staff are routinely expected to do this even though they are not professional trainers. And even if they are not doing it themselves they are still involved because they are commissioning someone else.


This is why we are running How to design and run community training that works as an in house course. It’s ideal if you run your own training. Alternatively it will help you assess outside providers because you see at first hand what makes for good training.


During the day, we’ll touch on all the things I’ve mentioned plus a great many others including:


  • Where do you start?
  • How do you go about planning and preparing a training session for tenants?
  • How to find out what residents want from training 
  • How to ensure that residents learn from your training courses
  • How to engage everyone
  • How to deliver materials in a stimulating way and so keep people’s attention and interest
  • How to build rapport so people are on your side
  • How to start and finish training sessions so that you look professional
  • When to take questions – at the beginning or the end?
  • How to manage your time so you don’t run out of it and overrun
  • How to cope with the after lunch slump when energy levels drop
  • How to stay confident, handle your nerves and not show your fear
  • How to use training to promote good practices in equalities

Why not run ths training in house? Make it the very next thing you do? Telephone me on 01494 772 458 email me at rod@rodlaird.co.uk











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