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.