Who Will Be Trained? - dummies

By Elaine Biech

As important as it is to determine whether there is a training need, it is equally important to learn as much about your participants as you can. You discover much about your audience in the data-gathering part of your needs assessment.

However, in some instances, someone else will have completed the assessment and the analysis. Your job may be to just deliver the program. At those times, you may find it useful to gain additional information about your participants before the training occurs.

Use the following questions as a starting point to find out more about your participants. It is doubtful that you would ever need to know all the information. Consider it a data smorgasbord. Select those that you want to know more about:

  • Background

    • Why were you asked to provide training for them?

    • Have they had other training on the same topic?

    • What do they know (and need to know) about you?

    • How many of the participants are personally acquainted with you?

    • Are they aware of the level of expertise or experience you bring to the situation?

    • Who are the key players in their department and organization?

  • Demographics

    • How many will attend your session?

    • Is their attendance voluntary? Required? Requested? Invited?

    • Where are they located? Locally? Globally?

    • What training experiences have they had?

    • How do they prefer to learn?

    • What is the demographic make up of the participants? Age? Gender? Other descriptive factors?

    • What information sources do they depend upon? Internet? Magazines? TV? Books? Newspapers? Blogs?

  • Level of expertise

    • How familiar are they with the subject matter?

    • What do they want to know?

    • What problem do they want you to help them solve?

    • Are all individuals at the same skill and knowledge level about thetopic?

    • Who are the experts in the group?

    • What is their level of responsibility or authority?

    • How does their level compare to yours? Does it determine the subject level or delivery style?

  • Attitudes

    • Are they interested in the subject? Should they be interested?

    • What successes and issues have they encountered?

    • What are their attitudes and beliefs relevant to the topic?

    • Do they know why they are coming to training?

    • May their minds already be made up?

    • What are their opinions about you?

    • Will they be friendly? Hostile? Raise objections?

  • Design considerations

    • How can you use technology to deliver content?

    • What follow-up options exist to reinforce the training? Mentoring? Peer groups? Coaching? Social-learning options?

    • Did the participants and their managers help to identify the objectives of the training?

    • Are you aware of anything that may antagonize them? Hot buttons? Taboo words or subjects? Gestures? Past experiences?

    • What is special about these participants?

    • Is there anything special about the location where you will be presenting?

    • Is there anything unusual about the date or timing of your ­training — for example, vacation, recent performance appraisals, downsizing effort?

  • Expected results

    • How can you meet their needs?

    • How does this training benefit the learners and the organization?

    • May there be disadvantages to the participants?

    • What changes do their supervisors expect as a result of the training?

    • Does the organization’s culture encourage participants to use what they learn in training? What may get in the way of learners’ applying their new knowledge or skill?