It seems that if anything goes wrong that interferes with conducting the training session, it will have something to do with the equipment. Your media and visual equipment — DVD player, projector, flipcharts — all help participants understand the message faster and easier. But when something goes awry, it can spell disaster. Preparation can prevent some potential headaches.
Preview one week before the event
Set up the machines and go through all visuals.
Practice with PowerPoint slides to ensure they are in order.
Experiment with dissolve enhancements, animation, and sound effects.
Practice with the equipment you will use, even the flipcharts require you to practice your flipping, ripping, and hanging techniques!
Set up the day before the event
The best thing you can do to be prepared for a training session is to set up the day before it is scheduled. If anything is missing, or if anything goes wrong, you will be happy to have learned about it a day early.
Be certain the equipment works.
Focus all equipment and set the volume level where needed.
Check volume control and know how to adjust it.
If playing a DVD off a computer, be sure to check the quality of the sound, because the speakers on the computer may not be as good as they need to be.
Make sure that the projector has the right lens and that it is clean.
Mark the projection table placement with masking tape on the floor.
Check that the screen is large enough and placed where you want it.
How large of a screen do you need? The distance from the participants should be six times the width of the screen.
Tilt the screen forward at the top to avoid keystoning (the image distortion caused when the projector beam doesn't meet the screen at a 90-degree angle).
Check the seats (sit in them) to make sure everyone can see.
Decide whether you need to dim the lights; do so only if you must.
Plan ahead to know where you will be standing.
Prepare for an emergency
Although you can't be prepared for every emergency, you can prepare using these suggestions:
Bring an extra projection bulb to the session.
Know how to change bulbs.
Learn a few troubleshooting tricks for the equipment you use most often.
Pack an adaptor plug and perhaps an extension cord.
Pack a roll of duct tape to tape down stray cords.
Have an alternative plan if the electricity fails — that may mean markers and a flipchart.
Special computer considerations
If you're teaching a computer class or using computers during the training session, take special precautions. Unless you're a computer troubleshooting whiz, have someone who is available when you set up and as you begin the session. Check out a few other things prior to the session.
Make sure that you have the name and contact number, including cellphone number of the person who will assist if you have difficulty.
Ensure that the computers have the correct software and version installed.
Make sure that you have the log-in ID and password required if necessary.
Determine who is responsible for providing and computer supplies.
Supplies you may want to add to the training kits described elsewhere in this chapter include a power strip, remote mouse with extra battery, and a screwdriver (if you're traveling by air, you'll need to place it in checked luggage).
Bring electrical tape, if you will work in a makeshift lab, to tape computer cables and other cords out of the participants' way.
Setup tricks for flipcharts
When your flipcharts are prepared, you will feel more organized and ready to conduct the session.
Use a design you create on paper to guide your writing.
Write on every other page (so you can't see through to the next page).
Use a variety of dark colors; red for emphasis only.
Use numbers, bullets, boxes, and underlining.
Some trainers like to use two different marker colors for every other idea on a list.
Letters should be 1 to 3 inches high.
Pencil cues in the margin.
Print; do not use cursive writing.
No more than ten lines per page.
A misspelled word can be cut out with a razor blade; tape clean paper to the back and rewrite the word.
Bend corners or use tape tabs to find and turn pages more easily.
Adjust the easel to a comfortable height and position it where you want to use it.
Plan flipchart placement so that your back is to the least number of participants. As you face the audience, the chart should be to your non-dominant side if you use it mostly for writing. It should be to your dominant side if you use it mostly for pointing to content. I usually have two charts, one for each purpose, and more if the participants will use them for listing ideas or decisions in small group activities.
Make sure the easel is securely locked and balanced and that the pad is firmly anchored on the easel.
All this equipment preparation may seem like a great deal of work. The first time something goes wrong, however, you will appreciate the attention to details.