Succeed at Project Management Training

Choosing the right techniques is key.

By James Chiarello, Pathfinder, LLC

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Using combinations of training methods and workshop techniques gives you a better chance of keeping your audience engaged and interested in the information you are trying to convey, thereby increasing retention.

So, the simple answer is to include as many of the techniques as possible into each training session. Time available will determine what's realistic. For instance, in one-day courses, which include roughly six hours of training, it may be impossible to accommodate four workshops. When designing any facilitator-led training session, you may want to consider a few factors before deciding when and where to use the four techniques:

• training duration and workshop timing;
• number of attendees;
• classroom size;
• proficiency of attendees in the subject matter; and
• subject matter.

Typically role-playing and scenario-based workshops take more time — for set up, to allow attendees to understand the situation and to provide each attendee with feedback.

The rule of thumb is to dedicate at least 60–90 minutes and, in some instances, up to two hours for any workshop. This assumes a class size of 16 to 24. Keep in mind that the key to a successful learning experience is the feedback attendees receive from the instructor and other team and class members. So when planning your training event and workshops, build in enough time for plenty of team interaction and individual one-on-one feedback from the instructor.

In addition, to make your workshops successful, avoid a few common mistakes:

• allowing too little time;
• not providing enough information for attendees to understand the scenario or situation;
• giving too much information, which makes the workshop unrealistic;
• not having clear training objectives and workshop learning outcomes;
• putting too many or too few attendees on each team (four to six is ideal);
• getting minimal or limited feedback from each attendee; and
• covering subject matter unrelated to the topic covered in the lecture.

Facilitator-led training techniques can improve project management skills. Training attendees will be receptive, engaged and focused, interact more with peers and instructors, and improve communication and cooperation skills. Using real-world situations will allow attendees to fine-tune their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, practice "thinking on their feet," and analyze and react to issues from a variety of project and organizational stakeholders. A good training facilitator, whose courses and programs are practical, relevant and based on attendees' real projects, will send project management personnel back to their jobs with the ability to immediately apply what they have learned.

JAMES CHIARELLO is general manager of the International Project Management Academy at Pathfinder, LLC, Cherry Hill, N.J. E-mail him at

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