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Training Away from Your Comfort Zone

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Training Away from Your Comfort Zone

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									instructional design & learning




    Training Away
    from Your
   COMFORT ZONE
        BY RHONDA K. BRACEY, Australia Chapter




                                        B
                                                          ecause we often know        one can sort it out while they continue
                                                          the most about a soft-      presenting.
                                                          ware product, technical        But even seasoned trainers stumble
                                                          communicators are fre-      when asked to train at another site for
                                                          quently asked to deliver    the first time. Training out of your com-
                                                          training, even if that’s    fort zone is where it gets challenging.
                                                          not our main role. If you   Even if you make specific requests,
                                          work at a large organization that pro-      never assume the client will meet them.
                                          vides software training, you’re probably    You have to be self-sufficient, bringing
                                          used to having one or more dedicated        with you everything you need. You need
                                          training rooms and a technician to pre-     to be confident that the tangential,
                                          pare the equipment. Over time, trainers     administrative details are under control,
                                          at such organizations become confident      so that you can convey your informa-
                                          that all the hardware and software is set   tion clearly and confidently.
                                          up correctly for their presentations, the      So, if you are presenting in another
                                          training databases are installed, and,      location, how do you ensure that every-
                                          should anything go wrong, that some-        thing runs smoothly?


   14                                                                                                September/October 2004
                                                                                             instructional design & learning

Prepare Yourself                             whether it’s yours or the company’s, is          Computer Equipment and Data
   Checklists are your time- and sanity-     sufficient for all expenses. If you are trav-       There are obvious items you need to
saver. Develop and use checklists for all    elling overseas, let your bank know the          take with you, such as a laptop and per-
your preparatory tasks. While they can       dates and destinations (including transit        haps a data projector. But don’t forget
take time to set up, you can reuse them      airports where you might buy duty-free           to take electronic copies of your pre-
(with modifications as necessary) every      goods), so an overseas transaction does-         sentation, manuals, and handouts as
time you deliver training at another         n’t trigger an automatic stop on your            well—on CD/DVD, USB thumb drive,
location. The one I use is nothing           credit card. This happened to me dur-            ZIP disk, or even floppies; keep these
fancy—just an undated Task in Outlook        ing a trip to California; fortunately, I had     separate from your laptop so if your
that I update as I find new items to add     another credit card that was accepted, so        laptop is stolen, goes missing, or
and others to scratch off. (Visit the Web    I wasn’t stuck in the United States for          crashes, you’ve got copies of your mate-
at www.cybertext.com.au/tips_training.htm    three weeks without funds.                       rials. If you have to install software and
to see a sample checklist.) Your lists                                                        databases at the client site, make sure
should include the following items:          Contacts                                         you have these applications, that you
                                                Know the names and emergency con-             know how to install them, and that you
Travel Arrangements                          tact details of all the people you might         know the user IDs and passwords.
   As soon as you can, clarify who will      need to get in touch with, including the         Other computer peripherals to con-
make your travel arrangements—it’s           IT gurus at your company and at the              sider include a mouse, mouse pad
probably not you, but you’ll need a con-     client site; your contact at the client’s        (glass lecterns can’t cope with the red
tact name in case you have questions or      company; the person who made your                light on an IntelliMouse), and an exter-
something goes wrong. This person will       travel arrangements; the airline; the            nal drive or modem. Double-check the
need to book air tickets (with enough        hotel; the rental car company; the               desktop icons and file folders on the
time between connections for security        national help desk numbers for the               company laptop to make sure they
checks), hotels, rental cars, and the        equipment you are carrying; and quick-           don’t include anything offensive or con-
training venue (if it’s not the client’s     turnaround printing companies at the             fidential, especially when projected
site); organize catering; and clear you to   client location.                                 onto the big screen. If you need Inter-
use your company’s corporate credit
card if there is one. Send one copy of
the itinerary to your client contact. If
                                             Even seasoned trainers
you’re renting a car, you’ll need maps       stumble when asked to train at

                                                              ANOTHER SITE
to get from airport to hotel to the
venue as efficiently as possible: Internet
sites such as Expedia (www.expedia.com)
and Mapquest (www.mapquest.com) can

                                                                                             for the first time.
provide detailed maps and driving
directions, or you can pop into your
local motoring association (such as
AAA) and pick up maps for your desti-        Take It With You                                 net access for the training, get off-line
nation. (You can find AAA office loca-         The age-old question—what do I                 copies of the sites in case the connec-
tions at www.aaa.com.)                       pack? Following are items you should             tion goes down in the middle of your
                                             add to your checklist:                           presentation.
Money
  You need to know “who pays for             Luggage and Shipping                             Cables, Cords, and Other Accessories
what” so that there are no surprises            To spare your back, get your company             If you take a data projector, don’t for-
when you get to the client location.         to invest in a wheel-along laptop bag as         get a spare lamp, the remote control
What travel expenses can you charge?         your carry-on luggage. Anything you              (with spare batteries), and all the cords
Do you charge them to your company           don’t need on the plane should go into           and cables to connect to your laptop
or the client? What do you have to pay       your checked luggage; use zip-lock bags          and the power; know how to connect
for out of pocket and then claim back        for small items so you can identify them         them and how to project the laptop
as a reimbursable expense? Which             easily. If you have to ship boxes of gear,       screen onto the presentation screen.
expenses are acceptable and which are        print all address labels (including return       Don’t forget all the other cords and
classed as personal? (For instance, will     address labels) before you leave. Put the        cables you’ll need—laptop, network,
your company spring for one alcoholic        labels in clear plastic sleeves to protect       phone, and power (including a power
drink with dinner, or the whole mini-        them and organize them so they are               strip, extension power cords, double
bar?) Know all of this before you leave.     ready when you move to the next loca-            adaptors, UPS, and international power
  Make sure that the credit card limit,      tion. Pack tape to secure the labels.            adaptors if you are travelling overseas).


September/October 2004                                                                                                                 15
instructional design & learning

   Other Items                                                                                  sider rearranging the seating so that
     If you won’t have time or access to                                                        people aren’t stuck behind blank
   print the materials when you get to the                                                      monitors. You might arrange chairs in
   location, take hard copies of all training                                                   a “U” or semi-circle, or, if your audi-
   materials, plus a few spares. Your cell                                                      ence needs writing space, you can put
   phone could be your lifeline if some-                                                        the computers on the floor at the side
   thing goes wrong, so keep it charged                                                         of the room and bring the desks
   and with you; throw in the battery                                                           together to make large work tables.
   charger too. Take a mini computer                                                          • Doubling up people at computers,
   repair kit (Phillips and flat-head screw-                                                    swapping the active and inactive partic-
   drivers, scissors, penknife, etc.)—but                                                       ipants at a suitable break so that every-
   don’t put them in your carry-on lug-         You’ve got to                                   one gets a chance at the keyboard.




                                                THINK
   gage. Your client may forget to print a
   name tag for you, so take your own.                                                          Your improvisations will depend on
   Whiteboard markers don’t take up                                                           what resources are available, but no matter
   much space, so throw in a few dark                                                         what decision you make, let the attendees
   ones in case there aren’t any at the                                                       know what you are doing and why. They’ll
   venue, the available ones have faded,        on your feet                                  evaluate you more fairly if they know why
   or the only ones that work are yellow!
                                                and be ready                                  they didn't get what they expected.

   In the Room
     Get to the venue early so you can deal
                                                to improvise.                                 Finishing Up
                                                                                                 After the training is over, collect the
   with any unexpected “nasties” before                                                       evaluation sheets, pack up your gear,
   they reflect badly on you. What’s early?                                                   and put the room back as it was. Return
   Probably anything between 30 and 60          • Tape down any loose cables and cords.       any borrowed materials and security
   minutes, assuming you can get access         • Turn off your cell phone a few min-         passes to the venue coordinator. Check
   to the room and depending on what              utes before you are due to start.           out of the hotel, return the rental car,
   you have to set up. If you can get into      • Take some deep breaths.                     get back on the plane, and breathe a
   the room the day before, that’s great.                                                     sigh of relief that it all went well.
                                                Help! I Don’t Have the Right Equipment!          Finally, don’t throw away those check-
   Set Up the Room                                 Your worst nightmare: You planned          lists. Revise them as soon as you can.
     The tasks you’ll need to do before your    carefully, you checked your lists, you took   Cross off anything that you can safely
   audience arrives include the following:      all you needed, but something still goes      leave at home next time (like the extra
                                                awry. You’ve got to think on your feet        pair of shoes that you packed, just in
   • Set up your computer and projector.        and be ready to improvise. For instance,      case you had time to go hiking), and
   • Install any software and databases on      let’s say that you don’t have enough com-     update your electronic copy. With your
     trainees’ computers and check logins.      puters for the hands-on training that you     brilliant preparation and high confi-
   • Check Internet and network connec-         had planned—despite assurances that           dence, there will be a next time, won’t
     tions, if necessary.                       they would be provided. You’ll have to        there? Just think about where those fre-
   • Check the room arrangement and             quickly consider your options, which          quent flyer miles will take you….
     adjust chairs and tables to suit your      might include the following:
     delivery style.                                                                          Rhonda Bracey was a high school teacher-
   • Clean the whiteboard and make sure         • Arranging for more computers to be          librarian and vice principal for eighteen
     there is enough flip-chart paper.            brought in. (If you don’t have time         years. She then spent five years at a software
   • Write any introductory notes on the          to set them up before the training          company, where she delivered more than one
     whiteboard.                                  begins, set them up during the first        hundred training courses throughout Aus-
   • Find the bathrooms, public phones,           break so that you aren’t holding up         tralia and its territories. Today, Rhonda
     and fire exits.                              your audience.) This solution may           owns her own company, focusing on techni-
   • Check the venue’s rules for food and         not be feasible, but now you know           cal writing, training, editing, and Web site
     drink in the room.                           why you have the cell phone numbers         development. This article is based on the
   • Check the catering arrangements.             of the company’s IT guru and your           “Training 101” presentations she gave at
   • Make sure that you have plenty of water.     contact person at the company!              STC's 49th and 50th Annual Conferences.
   • Check temperature and lighting con-        • Abandoning the “hands-on” training          Rhonda serves as the webmaster for STC’s
     trols and microphone levels.                 altogether and presenting a demo or         Lone Writers SIG and for STC's Australia
   • Distribute training materials and eval-      walkthrough using your laptop and           chapter. You can reach her at rhonda
     uation sheets.                               the data projector. If you do this, con-    .bracey@cybertext.com.au.


   16                                                                                                          September/October 2004

								
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