Planning a training meeting
Planning a training meeting takes time and good project management. The goal of each meeting should be to engage participants in learning and to ensure they leave with their goals accomplished.
Conducting a training needs assessment will identify what topics on the RI-recommended agenda to modify to make the training effective. When developing a needs assessment:
Determine your objective.
Choose a method for collecting information. Common methods for collecting information include:
- Evaluations of past meetings. Reviewing evaluations from past participants to determine positive and negative training experiences can help decide what is worth continuing and what should change.
- Questionnaires. Future participants can provide information at their leisure, either anonymously or with contact information for follow-up. See a sample needs assessment questionnaire.
- Interviews. Begin an interview by stating your purpose and assuring interviewees that their answers are confidential. Ask all interviewees the same questions.
- Focus groups. Conduct an open discussion of training needs among a group of potential participants (ideally, 7-10 people). Discussions should be moderated and recorded for analysis of results.
Analyze the data. Once you’ve collected your information, analyze the data by:
- Categorizing responses and looking for a recurring theme
- Interpreting responses and deciding which content areas need the most attention
- Sharing results with district leaders to discuss any necessary changes
- Addressing participants' interests and concerns while conveying the core information recommended by the RI Board of Directors
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RI leaders’ guides provide recommended training meeting agendas that cover topics recommended by the RI Board. When planning a meeting, modify the agenda to include topics from your needs assessment and your session titles, times, locations, breaks, and meals, as appropriate.
Also, consider the following:
- Your district. Include district-specific examples to illustrate points. Use a variety of formats, including group activities and panel discussions.
- Participants' needs. Use the results from your needs assessment to tailor your agenda. Determine whether you need to adjust the time frame or combine or add topics.
- Cultural practices. Include culturally appropriate training methods, such as awards and local customs, to enrich your participants' experience.
- Rotary experience. Participants will likely have varying levels of Rotary knowledge. Separate experienced Rotarians from newer ones when dealing with introductory material or partner experienced Rotarians with newer ones during group sessions. Allow time for newer Rotarians to share their views and ask questions.
- Club size. The size of a club affects how it operates and how its members experience Rotary, so include sessions that group participants based on club size.
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Selecting the time and place for a meeting influences the rest of the meeting planning.
Time. The RI Board-recommended time frames for club and district training meetings are listed below.
Venue. Consider the following options and services when selecting the meeting site:
- Ease of access. Choose a venue that is convenient for most of the participants – ideally, a central location near major roads, airports, or train stations.
- Facilities. Ensure the following facilities are available, particularly for larger meetings like presidents-elect training seminars and the district assembly: auditorium or general meeting space for plenary sessions; small rooms for group discussions; and space for registration, club and district displays, and adjunct meetings.
- Services. Find out whether these onsite services are available: banqueting for meals and breaks, equipment (microphones, speakers, projectors, screens), and a business center.
Some venues charge a rental fee if you work with an external service provider. Before committing to a venue, consider how you can protect your district and yourself by using loss-control guidelines. Also, read about what you should know before you sign a contract.
Budget. Meeting budgets should be based on anticipated revenues (registration fees, district subsidies) and expenditures (venue rental, printing of materials, mailings, and meals). Use registration figures and expenses from past district training meetings to guide planning. Work with the meeting’s organizer to determine who will manage the meeting’s budget. Use the budget worksheet to assist in planning.
Room setup. Use the training room setup worksheet to select the room setup that best corresponds to the meeting’s training goals, number of participants, program content and visuals, and instructional aids or materials.
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RI produces leaders’ guides and participant manuals for RI Board-recommended training meetings. Districts often produce local materials to complement RI materials. Producing supplemental materials can be time-consuming and expensive, so districts that choose to do so should plan accordingly.
Participant materials. When you hand out materials depends on the type of materials, the time needed for participants to review them, and your budget for mailing expenses. Distributing materials
- Before the meeting works best when there’s a lot of information and you want participants to have a base of knowledge. Materials can be mailed, e-mailed, posted on a website, or provided on a USB drive.
- During the meeting is best for materials specific to workshop activities, such as case studies or group exercises, and ensures that all participants have the required materials.
- After the meeting is best for materials that are generated during the meeting and extends the learning beyond the training.
Tools and equipment. Many items that support training can be rented from the venue, such as microphones, LCD projectors, screens, and computers. Review the planning calendar to ensure you have the right tools and equipment onsite.
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Information gathered from evaluations will help you assess the success of the training. Participants, planners, and facilitators can provide valuable feedback.
When developing an evaluation, consider the following:
- Objective. Do you want to know how participants felt about the experience? what knowledge they gained? how their behavior changed? how the training helped their club or district?
- Timing . Will you conduct the evaluation multiple times during the meeting, at the end of the meeting, or six months later?
- Method. Will you use a questionnaire, tests, or focus groups? Will you use paper or electronic evaluations?
All RI leaders’ guides include sample evaluation forms for participants and training leaders. Customize them to suit your location and meeting agenda. Compile the results, and analyze and share them with those responsible for the training event, as well as those who will conduct the training in the future.
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