Tips for Effectively Designing and Using Learning Handouts

Tips for Effectively Designing and Using Adult Learning Handouts

Tips for Effectively Designing and Using Learning Handouts

Professional trainers, presenters, facilitators, and adult educators know the importance of using professional-looking, content-driven session handouts when training and educating adult learners. That is because a well-designed, functional handout or training workbook is essential for reinforcing content that you deliver in your adult learning environment. This is especially true for the visual learners in your group.

Tips for Effectively Designing by the Creative Trainer

The following are some proven tips to use when designing your next handouts.

Focus on content.

Some adult learning educators and trainers forget that the handouts are training aids that should help learners better grasp concepts and remember key elements tied to the learning objectives. You should address material that will help them accomplish this and not try to use the piece as a sales tool for yourself or your products and services.

It is acceptable to put a footer with your copyright notice (e.g. Copyright 2014 Susan Right) along with phone number, email, and web domain on each page. This type of information helps protect your intellectual content from plagiarism and provides contact information in case one of your learners wishes to contact you later.

You might also include a short personal biography listing your experience and publications related to your topic in order to help establish credibility. However, the materials should not be a blatant promotional piece that has continual references to your expertise, research, website, products, and services. You can provide those items on the registration table or on a display table in the room along with any products, books, and other promotional items you want to offer or sell.

Keep the format and design “tight.”

Handouts aid kinesthetic and visual learners by engaging them mentally.

Less is more when designing handouts.

Keep in mind that they are not an article or a book. They should not contain everything that you plan to share with learners. Instead, they should highlight important points and perhaps add a bit of additional content (e.g. a definition or model) that will enrich the learning.  Use pertinent content bullet points and maybe a sentence or two, then leave space for taking notes in the margins, following bullet points, or on the back of each page as you expound on the information.

Number your pages.

By placing a page number on each sheet, you can refer to a specific item or section, and learners can quickly find and follow along with it.

Ensure that you have enough.

Always make at least 10% more copies than scheduled participants. It is very frustrating for learners when they do not receive a copy.

Provide references for material used in the handouts.

Use a page at the end of your handouts to list key resources (e.g. people, books, websites, or organizations) to which you referred during the session. This allows learners to follow-up and reads more about the concepts, principles, models, or whatever they shared.

Include complimentary graphics and images.

To reinforce the written content and to attract and hold learner attention and to reinforce the text, include various images that relate to your verbiage. Make sure that you have copyright permission to use the images that you include and where appropriate give credit to the sources.

For additional creative training tips and techniques and adult learning strategies that can enhance your learning environments and help your adult learners to better gain, retain, recall and use what they experience, get copies of Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results and The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.


Flip Chart Basic – Writing on the Paper

Flip Chart Basic – Writing on the Paper

In addition to my book – The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers and Team Facilitators, entire books have been written about how to effectively prepare and use the classic flip chart as one of your visual aids in adult learning environments and group gatherings. A key flip chart basic – writing on the paper – is one that you should remember when designing and using flipcharts in your training session or meeting.

The following are several points to keep in mind when preparing and writing on your flip chart pages.

Print words. Make sure that you print words legibly when writing on your flip chart pages so that participants can read what is there. This is especially important when you have people from other cultures present who might not be familiar with cursive style. Also, some school systems no longer teach cursive writing as a required subject in elementary schools.

Use large letters. Make sure that your letters are large enough to view from a distance. Consider using capital lettering for page heads and a combination of upper and lower case letters for text on the page. A good combination is to use 4-inch (appx 10 cm)letters for headers and 2-3-inch (appx 5-7.6 cm) for text lines.

Write in a Straight Line.  You can either buy lined or graph flip chart paper or use a straight edge to ensure that lines of text flow straight across the page when creating them. This helps ensure that your written messages look professional and that you do not waste paper.

Use the Six to Eight Rule When Designing Your Pages. This means to limit words per line to 6-8 and lines of text to from 6-8. This increases the ease of reading and reduces clutter on the page.

Like many other aspects of training adults, following some simple guidelines when preparing your flip charts in advance can increase your effectiveness and aid learners in getting the information that you intend.

For additional ideas and strategies on making and using flipcharts in your training or adult learning events, get copies of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers and Team Facilitators and The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

YOUR THOUGHTS? – Please share any tips for effectively using flip charts in adult learning environments?