Six things to think about when designing a training course

When planning a training course, most people start by thinking about all of the things they want to cover then don’t know where to go next. Here are the six core, and interrelated, elements of any training course – to help shape all that content into something meaningful and memorable. 

Developing leaders - Aims and Objectives

Aim and objectives

The most important question to ask is what you want your participants to be able to do as a result of the training. You are doing the training because you want something to change or to happen with your audience. What is this? Think ahead. In one, three, six months’ time, what do you want them to be able to do that they are not doing at the moment – or aren’t doing well enough. It may be:

  • I want them to be able to use my product
  • I want them to be able to resolve customer queries within 24 hours.

Once you have decided what you want your participants to do, each session of the event will have objectives too, which come together to help you achieve your overall objective.


Having bottomed out your aims, the next area to explore is your participants. There are many questions to ask including:

·    Who are they? ·    What are their expectations?
·    How many of them are there?
·    How well do they know each other?
·    What do they already know about what you are covering?
·    What is their learning style? ·    What are their feelings towards the subject?
·    What are their cultural norms? ·    What are the interrelationships and politics?


This element is often not recognised or is ignored – but if you want people to do something differently they will need to feel some emotional connection to it. So the next question is “What do you want people to feel? It may be enthused, excited, or motivated – or perhaps shocked or even worried. Without emotional connection nothing will change. Your course design and your trainers must help create this climate.

Technical content/Subject matter

This is the actual content of the training. Bearing in mind your participants existing knowledge, experience and skill, what will you cover? At what level? Do you need to draft in technical experts or others with particular experience for some parts of the training?


Process is all of the stages of your training and what will happen in each. What will they do – case studies, exercises, discussions, quizzes, listen to speakers? Will you split participants into groups? And if so how will they share their learning? How will you make sure they convert what they learn into practice?  How will you monitor and maintain the appropriate level of energy? What handouts and visual aids will you need?


Event feedback shows conclusively that when events are poorly rated it is more often than not the hygiene factors that bring them down. A course can have highly stimulating sessions but if the environment is not right then much of the hard work in design and delivery is lost. So, last but by no means least, it’s crucial to get the environment right.

This is not only the venue, food and ample supplies of coffee and healthy snacks, but also heat and light. It’s also about being aware of times of day – such as the mid-morning peak and the post lunch “graveyard slot” and factoring these into what you deliver and when.

Armed with this framework designing a training event becomes much easier. All that’s left to do now is to deliver it – and the framework will help you here too.