To many people detailed design is lots of slides – or at least slides with notes. Many L&D professionals don’t do further than creating what I would call an outline for their sessions. This is risky (and a missed opportunity) for all the reasons I quoted in the last blog. However, they may do this for one of four reasons: 1) They don’t want to. 2) They never realised the benefits it can bring 3) They don’t give themselves enough time, and 4) They don’t know how.
Perhaps I’ll address point 3 at a later time, but for now, let’s address reason 4: You don’t know how to.
So, let me explain how I get ideas from my head into a detailed session plan. Maybe following a similar path will help make your whole experience easier.
- Start with the overall aim of the course and distil it into one sentence. This will help to keep you on the straight and narrow.
- Write your objectives. They can be drafts (more specific wording will reveal itself through the design process) and the order doesn’t matter at this stage.
- Brainstorm your content. Jot down everything you think you MIGHT cover. Do this with pen and paper, on post-it notes or on a whiteboard.
- Use this to decide what ‘chunks’ of content you will include and what order they fit best.
- Identify any ‘big’ activities that you think you’ll include and under which chunk.
- Assign rough timings - remembering to account for breaks.
- You’ve almost certainly got too much, so review what you’ve got and cut it down NOW.
- Write this out into a one-page overview. Check it flows and the timings look roughly right.
- Cut it down again if you need to, or at least adjust your expectations. Can you REALLY cover all that in 45 minutes?
- Write each section in the order that you will run it. Use a table (or Session Lab) to specify time, content that will be covered, how activities will run, any supporting material required AND any technical instructions. No need to create slides, handouts, activity briefs, role plays or case studies at this point. Just reference them.
- If at all possible, write this session plan in one sitting, so you can visualise running the course as you do. If not, make sure you finish a section.
- If some details are sketchy, come back to them later, but NOT whole sections.
- When the session plan is written, go back to the start (probably the next day). Think about what you need to run each part: a slide, a handout, some instructions? Add them as you go. Edit the content as necessary.
- I tend to write the delegate workbook/handouts and exercise briefs after the session plan. This allows you to tweak the session plan if necessary to reference specific content.
- Then I create the slides – even when training virtually, slides support the session – they don’t drive it. Creating slides and delegate materials at the end means you aren't wasting your effort producing things that don't make it to the final cut.
- Finally, check timings are realistic, neaten up your objectives and put them in the order of they will be covered, and get everything proof-read before sharing with stakeholders.