Sometimes developing a training session can feel like a big task. Avoid rushing into planning what you are going to do; first, explore what the training must accomplish. Ask three questions:
Determining the Target Audience
Think about how you would describe your potential learners. Describing their key characteristics allows you to determine their interest in your session, to acknowledge and respect their level of previous knowledge and experience and to anticipate any challenges they might have with the upcoming session. You can then customize the session based on these factors. Use the following chart to launch your thinking about the target audience. Some characteristics will be more important for your session than others – you don’t need to complete the entire chart. When working with outside speakers, review the key characteristics of your target audience and confirm that they will customize their presentation to that particular audience.
|Anticipated/ideal group size||Less than 20, 20-50, 50-100, more than 100|
|Sector||Developmental Services, Justice, Mental Health|
|Occupation/Role||Clinicians, family members, managers, students|
|Geographic range||Local, regional, provincial|
|Education level||High school, college, university, post-graduate|
|Level of experience in the topic||Beginners, some experience, very experienced|
|Previous training related to the topic||Recent, within 5 years, more than 5 years ago|
|Main challenges learners face related to the topic||Long-standing, recent|
|Learner’s feelings about attending training||Excited, uncertain, not interested|
|Context(s) in which learners work||Environmental, economic, legal, political, social|
Assessing the Learner’s Needs
Assessing what the learners need and want to know is critical to customizing the session content to those needs and interests. Assessment contributes to participants taking ownership of applying their learning on the job. There are different ways you can find out what the session participants want to learn, including reviewing relevant documents and asking them directly.
Review related documents
Find out how the proposed focus of the session has been reflected in key documents and if any specific educational needs have been identified (e.g., policies, procedures, meeting minutes, government documents, etc.)1.
Ask potential participants directly
To collect information directly from the target audience, determine whether to do this through a survey or discussion, either from individuals or in a group setting. Select the format that is the best fit for your work situation, timing and context. Describe the purpose of the session in plain language and focus the questions on what learners need and want to come away with at the end of the session. Some questions might include:
- What three topics are most important to you and your work?
Note: you can ask this as an open-ended question or provide a list of potential responses that can be checked, with an “other” option for respondents to fill in (see the template).
- What are the reasons why you identified those topics?
- How would you rate your ability on each topic on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high)?
- What is your occupation, role, region, number of years’ experience, etc.?
To analyze the needs assessment data, look for common themes among the participants’ answers to the questions posed and across the documents you have reviewed, including similarities and differences.
Template: Assessing the Learner’s Needs
Clarifying Budget Requirements
Before establishing a formal budget for your educational event, anticipate what requirements and limitations you have, such as:
- What specific budgetary guidelines were provided by the person who made the request?
- What other resources are available, e.g., funding, human, time?
- What resource constraints need to taken into account, e.g., funding, human, time?
Now that you have thought about the event’s requirements, you are ready to prepare a budget. The template provides easy-to-use guidance.