Why are training designers often asked to work for free? I know times are hard, but more and more freelance consultants are being asked to put in a CONSIDERABLE amount of design time into work that may or may not come off.
Freelance facilitators know that not all their time is paid for, that they have to speculate to accumulate, that they have to put effort in up-front to deliver a great result. But sometimes, it seems excessive.
If they are developing a signature course or programme that they can sell, its product development. I did that with my Designing for Digital Delivery Programme. I designed it at my own expense, but have run it 5 times now, so it was worth the investment. If they are asked to develop a course that will be run once a month every month, it's reasonable to ask for the development to be included as part of the delivery fee.
But to design for someone ELSE to use seems unfair - UNLESS that time is being paid for. Once I was asked to design a course for free so that ANOTHER freelance trainer could get 12 days' delivery. I declined. Now, If I was the one being guaranteed 12 days work, I would have almost certainly agreed.
When I designed for corporate clients, they paid for my time, so if business priorities changed, I didn't lose out. If they wanted an internal facilitator to run it, they could. It wasn't MY course... by paying me for development time, they earned the right to do that (which makes me think of the thorny issue of copyright and IP - a topic for another blog I think).
To be asked to personalise the content, to add your own style and customise it without payment is fair enough. But this assumes that the content is already PROPERLY written - that the detail is there, and you can tailor it as part of your prep.
But what if all you have are 40 slides? No facilitator notes, no exercises and no case studies? Then you can't tailor it... you essentially have to design it, and it actually takes longer than designing from scratch as you have to try and guess what the intentions was behind each of the slides, what the activities were, how they should be run and what the learning points are.
A SLIDE DECK IS NOT COURSE DESIGN.
A slide deck is a set of visual aids. Nothing more, nothing less.
It's like thinking the wallpaper is the wall. The untrained eye will be forgiven for forgetting that behind that wallpaper, there is plaster, plasterboard, embedded wires, brick, insulation, a timber frame, a damp course, and goodness knows what else.
The slides are not the course - even a virtual one.
Yes, they are perhaps more important than they are in a face-to-face session, but they are still not "the course".
There's much more to design than a slide deck. Design is where you :
- Meet the client (or stakeholder) and get a brief
- Do some research
- Identify the concepts and key points that need to be covered
- Think about how the content will be covered
- Structure it
- Create a course outline for approval and amend it if required
- Create exercises and activities
- Write pre-course work and post-course exercises
- Produce a session plan, slides and delegate materials
- Write case studies and role plays
- Make materials visually appealing
- Get things proof-read
- Check back with stakeholders that you’ll be delivering what they want.
This takes a considerable amount of time. Prep on the other hand is where you:
- Familiarise yourself with the content and tweak it to add your own personality
- Set up any polls/online exercises
- Make sure you have the necessary materials and equipment to run the session
- Check the slides and any links to video etc. work
- Make your own ‘short-cut’ notes
Design means that less time is needed for prep (though there's still a few hours there!). It also means that different trainers prep the same things, and this leads to consistency between courses.
Design is a bit like writing the play and prep is rehearsing it: Both are essential to perform well, but without the writing, there’s nothing to rehearse. And why would you invest in rehearsals if you didn’t know what the play was to be about, and you felt it was going to be successful?
Even when I’ve designed a session myself, I still need to prep if I’m delivering it. Mentally, they are different disciplines, and prep is done close the event, design may be done months in advance.
- People generally expect to be paid for design - directly or indirectly
- People do not generally expect to be paid for prep - that is included in the delivery fee
Prep is what we expect to do in order to deliver an agreed workshop to the standard the client expects. Good design is what is needed to create that workshop in the first place.
To learn HOW to design great training, check out my Practical Guide – available HERE