Tip #230: Debunking Myths About Administrative Details

Most training programs have traditionally begun with a welcome to the training program, an introduction of the trainer, and then 10-30 minutes (or more!) focus on a long list of administrative and housekeeping details: taking attendance, handing out forms to complete, and discussing how long the training is, where the restrooms are, how to get credit for the program, other training that is related, etc., etc.

Brain studies have found that the beginning and ending of any training segment is when learners are most likely to learn. According to David A. Sousa in How the Brain Learns, “During a learning episode, we remember best that which comes first [primacy], second best that which comes last [recency], and least that which comes just past the middle [down-time].”So to spend the very beginning of a training program on administrivia is not only a terrible waste of good learning time, it means that key learning content will occur during down-time, when it is most difficult for retention to occur.

In addition, if we want to create excitement and enthusiasm about the training program, discussing administrative and housekeeping details in length at the beginning is definitely NOT the way to accomplish it.

Instead, get the participants engaged in learning new content-related information immediately- and save the administrative items for the down-time between the beginning and the ending of the initial training segment.

Does anyone have creative ways they handle administrative and housekeeping details, so they do not get addressed at the beginning of the session or they take very little time? Please send them in and we’ll print them in the next Tip! Thanks!

Last week, we debunked the myth that administrative and housekeeping matters should always be covered at the very beginning of a training session. I asked folks to send in the creative ways they handle administrative and housekeeping details, so they do not get addressed at the beginning of the session or they take very little time- and Nancy Anderson of Hennepin County, Minnesota responded immediately!

Dear Deborah,

How interesting that you have this topic this week. Just last week I facilitated a ‘Leading Change’ workshop designed and developed by DDI. I was surprised at how the beginning of the course was designed: it began with a quick table discussion of changes that participants are experiencing in their work place, then we immediately went into a game/simulation about change, followed by more discussion and presentation of the course theme and materials. Then, a full 30 minutes into the class, we covered “housekeeping” items. They were actually listed in the Facilitator Guide as “optional”–I, of course felt the need to cover them, but it was very quick–less than 5 minutes.

So. . . there is an example. I can’t take credit for it, but I can attest to its effectiveness! Feel free to share.

Terri Vetter of the American Cancer Society- Ohio Division, Inc. also offered these two wonderful techniques: Hi Deb,

One way I’ve managed the important administrative details that are part of a training is to post flip charts before the session titled “Ground Rules” and “Roles.”

I encourage people to add ideas to the ground rules flip chart as they arrive — since most folks are pretty savvy about training room expectations they know what to write & this becomes an easy “pre” session icebreaker.

The “Roles” flip chart lists roles for the day (e.g. Time Keeper, Note Taker, and Break Caller) along with a blank line for people to sign up. This also provides a visual reference of who’s responsible for what . . . and if someone forgets to follow thru with their role, then the group can apply peer pressure instead of me becoming the “heavy.” 🙂

Nancy and Terri, thank you so much for your examples and techniques!

This week, we debunk the myth that participant introductions at the beginning of a training session are unnecessary.

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