Tip #347: Avoid Seven Mistakes When Organizing Participant Materials

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” Douglas Adams

How the participants’ materials are organized will have a direct impact on the ease in which they are able to locate desired documents both during and after the training program.

Mistake #1: Omitting a Table of Contents.

Trainers hope that their training content is relevant and useful to the participants. Facilitating the participants’ ability to locate specific pages or information would be in everyone’s best interests. The easiest way to do this is with a Table of Contents that identifies the page number for each titled page.

Mistake #2: Not Binding the Materials.

There is nothing so frustrating and time consuming (for both trainer and participants) as participants having to shuffle through paper trying to locate a specific page. It really doesn’t matter if it is stapled, paper clipped, or three-hole punched and in a binder. Just make sure the pages are in order (and all of the pages are there).

Mistake #3: Overlooking Space for Note Taking.

Some participants prefer to take notes. That is how they learn. So meet their need by providing space. There are many ways to accomplish this: leave space intended for note taking and answers on worksheets; leave the back of the previous page blank; use extra large margins or double spacing so there is room for notes; or simply provide blank pages that the participants can insert into their materials.

Mistake #4: Not Separating Key Chapters.

The best way to help participants navigate their training materials when the training is more than one day is to separate the key chapters or content. This can be done with tabs in a binder and/or different colored pages.

Mistake #5: Using Binders Without Pockets.

In lieu of the need to keep a three-hole punch available at all times, it is wise to plan ahead and make sure that, when using a binder, it has pockets in the front and/or in the back. These pockets are easy catch-alls for additional handouts and note pages.

Mistake #6: Not Placing the Title on the Spine of the Binder.

A binder is of little use if it is not easily found in a bookcase. The best way to accomplish this is to make sure that the binder has a slipcase on the front (to slip in a copy of the title page for the training) and on the spine (to slip in basic information, such as the training title and date).

Mistake #7: Not Printing Extra Copies.

It doesn’t matter what quality control for printing is in place, make sure to print extra copies of participant materials. Invariably, someone will be missing a page or a section. If you have extras, you can easily remedy that situation.

Avoiding these seven mistakes will help to ensure that the participants have a ready reference to guide them as they apply their new skills both inside and outside of the classroom.

May your learning be sweet.


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