How To Run A Mass Training Session

It was a privilege to be part of the big divisional training session for newly elected executive teams from local area Toastmaster clubs.

I’d guess that attendance had to be over 250 with training for all club officers (president, vp of ed, vp of membership, vp of public relations, treasurer, secretary and Sgt.-at-arms).

First Oakville was one of the few (and maybe the only) club that had all seven incoming executives at the same training on the same day.

I was also very pleased to see four officers from the corporate club I mentor Stoney Creek Union Gas Ramblers who sat with the First Oakville crew.

Despite my being a Toastmaster for over 22 or 23 years now I still learned a lot at the training. For one thing, lots has changed since the last time I was president back in 2003. Back then I can’t remember submitting a Distinguished Club Plan (and honestly I don’t think I did) and there’s lots more paperwork these days.IMG_0521

The training session was a good opportunity for me to remember some of the key elements of putting on a mass training event.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • As the organizers did on Saturday, start on time no matter what
  • Keep the introduction part short and snappy
  • Focus on the fun of learning and then let the learning begin
  • At the breakout sessions seek audience participation
  • Audience participation makes training fun and the time flies
  • Everyone I saw used a powerpoint. I wouldn’t
  • I’d have a handout or an online powerpoint but I’d engage the audience directly face to face
  • There’s only so much a presenter can offer in one hour
  • Keep presentations to five or six points only and offer additional information as a takeaway
  • Trying to cover too many points is an exercise in frustration for the audience and the presenter
  • Under no circumstances have a lengthy presentation right before lunch 🙂
  • End your presentation five minutes early rather than one minute (or more) late and your audience will love you
  • Remember even in teaching a workshop start with a bang and end with a bang and keep the audience engaged throughout
  • If you’re asked to be a presenter the adage of why this speech (or workshop) and why this audience still applies
  • If you don’t know something say so. Don’t guess
  • Have fun and if you do, so will your audience

Putting on a big workshop is a big job and the organizers of Saturday’s event can be very proud of what they accomplished. If you get an opportunity to be a presenter or a participant keep some of these points in mind and enjoy your day.

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