Trainer Mistake 2 – Too Much Content

By Bill Wilder, the Life Cycle Institute

Many subject matter experts and managers are asked or required to deliver training. Most have little training experience so they make mistakes. At the 2015 Association for Talent Development conference Bob Pike, a widely respected learning authority, presented The 7 Greatest Mistakes Trainers Make and How to Avoid Them:

1 – No transfer strategy

2 – Too much content

3 – Failure to chunk content

4 – Poor use of evaluations

5 – Managing questions in the classroom

6 – Lack of planned and impromptu closers, openers, revisits, and energizers

7 – Not available before and after formal class

Mistake 2 is “Too Much Content.”

The best facilitator is one with deep content knowledge and experience. This is what earns credibility and makes the content relevant. The risk is that often someone at this level has long forgotten what it was like to be a beginner. The typical subject matter expert (SME) will only teach 30% of what a beginner needs to know. The SME is also likely to present or lecture on their most recent experiences and knowledge. This is a high risk for organizations going through generational transitions in the workforce. We do want practitioner teachers but we have to work with them to make the learning relevant for a beginner.

There are several things you can do to mitigate this risk:

  • Team experienced SMEs with beginners in the learning design phase.
  • Define specific SMART learning objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely).
  • Only include content that advances the learning objective. All other content should be jettisoned or relegated to an appendix of “nice to know” content.

Bill Wilder, M.Ed is the founder and director of the Life Cycle Institute, the learning, leadership and change management practice at Life Cycle Engineering. The Institute integrates the science of learning and the science of change management to help organizations produce results through behavior change. You can reach Bill at [email protected].

© Life Cycle Engineering 

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