Leading a training project can be scary. But, I’ve got 10 tips to lead a training project kick off like a boss that can make it less daunting.
When you lead a training project, you want the project to be a success. I know I do. Your name is attached to the project. So, not only will the project’s success be evaluated, your leadership skills will be too.
If leading a project is new for you, this can be an especially anxious period in your career. You’re the point of contact for upper leadership, SMEs, the training team, and other stakeholders. Serving in this position can get overwhelming if you don’t set the tone with a great kick-off meeting.
10 Tips to Lead a Training Project Like a Boss
The list of tips below is a sure-fire way to lay down a great plan for a successful kick-off meeting.
#1 Establish the purpose and objectives of the kick-off meeting.
At this point, you should have a general idea of why the course is needed. Use this to sketch out a few high-level learning objectives. You can also draft the purpose and objective of the training project kick-off meeting.
Identify what information you need to walk away with once the meeting is over. That means you need to know what answers and information to gather during the meeting before setting up the meeting.
Here are a handful of things I consider before setting up the kick-off meeting:
- What KPI will this training impact?
- What must the learner be able to do after completing the training?
- When will the organization deliver the training?
- Who are the subject matter experts?
- What specific topics to include?
- Is there a quiz? Passing rate?
You don’t need to have the answers to these questions before the meeting. You just need to let your attendees know what information you will need to collect during the meeting. Doing this prior to the kick-off meeting allows them to come prepared with the right type of information.
#2 Select a meeting format that fosters collaboration.
Having everyone in the same room for this kick-off meeting would be the best-case scenario, but that isn’t always possible with travel schedules and remote working.
The good news is that video conferences can be just as effective and collaborative. I’ve been in and facilitated hundreds of online meetings that were just as effective as in-person, face-to-face meetings.
In fact, I worked remotely for four years and led a team remotely, so I know it’s possible. Some people may say that virtual meetings aren’t as effective, but I would argue that the efficacy of a virtual meeting is dependent on the expectations that are set and how the meeting is facilitated.
For example, I asked every team member to turn on their camera for meetings. Seeing faces and facial expressions can help with communication, understanding, and team building.
Whatever setting you decide to use – live or virtual – just make sure the meeting format is set up to invite collaboration from the other attendees.
To ensure your meeting is set up for success, use the meeting invite to let the attendees know how they are expected to participate and prepare for the meeting.
Things to consider:
- Is the meeting a brainstorming session or a fact-finding session?
- How will you facilitate collaboration during the meeting?
- Who to invite and why?
- How will you involve others in achieving the purpose and objectives of the meeting?
- What questions to ask?
#3 Prepare the meeting agenda.
Once you have the purpose, objectives of the training, and the format of the meeting decided, you can set the meeting agenda.
The meeting agenda should include the purpose and objectives of the meeting, ground rules for the meeting, assigned responsibilities, the questions you want to get answers to, and anything else that needs to be covered during the meeting.
The agenda can be a useful tool to keep conversations on track during the meeting. If it isn’t on the agenda, it shouldn’t be covered during the meeting.
#4 Schedule and invite stakeholders, SMEs, and everyone who will participate in the development of the training.
Don’t invite people to meetings for the sake of inviting people. Only invite people who need to participate in the meeting, unless someone asks to be kept in the loop. I truly hate feeling obligated to attend a meeting that I am not needed for.
Have you ever been in a meeting with 15 people and 3 or 4 of them do all of the talking and decision-making? Meanwhile, everyone else is on their laptops or cell phones completely disengaged. I know you have, that might be a sign that people were invited for the sake of being invited.
When you know who to invite, use your calendaring tool to choose a time that is best for everyone. Attach the meeting agenda and include the questions you want to answer during the meeting in the body of the email. Don’t forget to include any other resources or pre-read material that is important to the project.
There’s no guarantee that everyone will show up prepared. But, you will have your bases covered if you follow these tips. Being overly prepared can help calm your nerves when leading the meeting, too!
#5 Kick off the meeting with meeting goals, objectives, agenda, and ground rules.
At the start of every meeting, it’s important to review the purpose, goals, and objectives of the meeting to ensure everyone is aligned. There will be some people who will show up with their own agenda, so it is important to review your agenda and the ground rules for the meeting at the start of the meeting.
For example, you might state at the start of the meeting that the agenda is the tool you will use to keep the meeting on track and that if anyone goes off-topic, you will invite them to take that topic off-line for further discussion or come back to it after all agenda items have been covered.
As the leader of the meeting, you have a job to do and information to collect so it is important that you set the tone and objectives for the meeting early on.
#6 Establish the scope of the training.
You will find that without establishing clear parameters (i.e. the scope), there is a tendency to cover everything related to a topic, which can become unwieldily and overwhelming.
Establishing the scope can help keep the conversations on topic, the meeting on track, and keep the focus on what you are trying to accomplish.
So, what does it mean to establish the scope of the meeting? It means that you:
- Get specific in what the course is about
- Define the course outcomes and learning objectives
- Determine what to include in the training
- Decide whether the course will be digital or live
- Determine the output (PPT, Captivate, Articulate, Video, etc.)
There is much more to address in defining the scope of a training than these points above. Check out the Training Needs Analysis template for Instructional Designers for more information.
#7 Define what success will look like.
Effective training leaders know evaluation is a huge part of determining the success of a course and defining success upfront can ensure training courses are designed with the end in mind.
Generally, someone above you will be looking at the data to see if training is moving the needle. That means courses need to be defined with targets in mind and those metrics should be established prior to the development of the training.
Why? If metrics are set after the course is developed, the content may or may not be set up to achieve those targets. When the target is established in advance, the instructional designer can write content that enables the learner to perform in a way that helps the company achieve the desired outcomes.
Defining what success looks like upfront will make it easier to track the ROI of the training initiative as well as evaluate whether or not the training achieved what it was designed to achieve.
#8 Keep all conversations focused on goals and objectives of the training.
Squirrel! AKA keep the meeting from going off track. A couple of squirrel conversations is natural. They happen. Sometimes, they build rapport and relationships. Just keep the overall focus on the training project agenda.
At the start of any project, it’s critical to establish the purpose and objectives of the training to make sure the project is in alignment with organizational goals. All company training programs should cascade up to one of the company’s goals, usually through departmental goals.
If the course doesn’t cascade up, then you need to question what value the training will bring to the company.
Ensuring there is alignment between the purpose and objectives of the course and the company’s goals, ensures that everyone in the company is ultimately working towards the same goals.
Putting organizational alignment aside, the course purpose and objectives also serve as guideposts throughout the training and in every SME and stakeholder discussion, including the kick-off meeting.
All content should connect to one or more of the objectives. If you or the SME can’t connect the content to an objective, then the content may not be “need to know” information that should be included in the course.
Having the objectives and purpose in place can be a powerful tool in guiding content discussions. As requests come in to add specific pieces of information to the course, you can ask how the content relates to the objectives. If no one can make a strong link to an objective, the content is out.
#9 Agree on all due dates.
You never want to end a project kick off meeting feeling like you don’t know what’s next. Always be clear and restate any established due dates so everyone is aligned with the same expectations.
If you aren’t ready to commit to a delivery due date for the final project, you can offer a due date for when you will provide the project timeline instead.
If you are working in a true Agile environment, you won’t have due dates, but you might be able to share which sprint you might be able to start work in.
In my experience, training project management is typically a hybrid of Waterfall and Agile (a.k.a. W-Agile). Meaning, we get a due date and then plan the sprints that lead up to that due date.
Of course, if you are handed a due date which is unrealistic, you need to address that as soon as possible! Avoid over committing to unrealistic deadlines.
#10 End with a recap and go over next steps.
Sum up what was discussed during the meeting. Include the established due dates, who is responsible for what, and next steps.
After the meeting, send out a meeting recap with this same information to limit confusion.
Utilizing these 10 tips can help you kick off any training project like a boss. You’ll also lay the groundwork for a successful implementation of the training.
After kicking off your training project, you will move into instructional design project management. Check out the 7 common project management mistakes.
My Facebook Group is a great place to add your questions and engage with other instructional designers on different topics related to instructional design. So, jump on in and join the conversation.
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Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.
I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.
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Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.
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I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!
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The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!
Future Instructional Designer
If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!
Future Instructional Designer
I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).
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I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.
Krista Johnson Awomoyi
Freelance Instructional Designer
I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.
This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!
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Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.
I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!
Freelance Instructional Designer
My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!
Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design
I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.
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Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.
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