Before I was an Excel trainer, even before I was an accountant, I taught English as a foreign language. Even though the subject matter is quite different, I learned some really useful techniques and principles which I apply to Excel training now.
Detailed lesson planning and rehearsal
The first thing you learn when preparing lessons and training courses is the importance of a detailed lesson plan. I set learning objectives and think about the best ways to get these across. Then I prepare a flowchart where I break the timings down into five minute intervals. Rehearsal is key – I want to make sure that the planned material will fit the timings.
I also request feedback and refine training courses going forward based on that feedback.
Making it relevant
It sounds obvious, but people learn better when the materials and learning objectives are relevant to their work or to something that they want to achieve in their life. When teaching English, I used different materials for my teenage classes than for my adult classes. When training finance teams in Excel or Power Query, I tailor the training materials to that business and their specific issues.
Delegates with a range of knowledge and experience
Excel trainers often find that their class is not at the same skill or confidence level. This can pose a challenge for the trainer. It’s really frustrating for delegates to go over material that they already know, but you might risk missing out on some important background knowledge.
I address this in two ways. Firstly, I send round a questionnaire beforehand so I can gauge the knowledge and confidence of the delegates and adapt the materials accordingly.
Secondly, I make use of a technique called “elicitation“. This is a fancy way to say that I ask questions and test the more basic knowledge quickly, so that we can move on to the more interesting material.
Reinforcement of learning
Learning is a process that starts before the training course and ideally does not end with it. You will get much better training outcomes if delegates want to be there and have a purpose in their learning.
This is why I love training finance teams, rather than individuals. If a team learns new things together, the team members can reinforce the learning with each other well after the initial training has finished. As an Excel trainer, I can highlight lots of new formulas, functions and techniques to make your team’s lives easier. This training becomes even more effective if you are then using it together as a team.