When training, provide context

One of the most important things you can do when training new users in a database is to provide context. That is, prior to actually training someone on how to do something, take just a minute or two to explain WHAT you’re going to be doing, and WHY we’re using the database to do this. Too often trainers assume that everyone in the room is starting from the same point of understanding.

For example, when training on how to manage committee data, an introduction of context might look something like this:

“The next section we’re working in is committee management. The purpose of this area is to allow us to manage who is on a given committee, what position they are serving in, the term of their service, and track history (who served back when). In addition, this area will allow us to easily communicate with members of the committee via email. I’ll be walking you through how to create a committee, add people to a committee, assign positions and terms, and how to communicate with them as a group.”

With that simple bit of context, all users now have some sense of where they are and where they are headed with this training. Too often, though, trainers jump right in at “exercise one,” which requires the learners to mentally catch up with the trainer.

Remember, with training it’s always: Tell me what you’re going to do; do it; and tell me what you did.

About Wes Trochlil

For a quarter century, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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