Are you confident that you’re producing the best training materials possible? Or is your training material development procedure lacking?
These training materials are crucial for employees to improve their skills and expand their knowledge.
Training materials are one of the core pieces of your training program — if they’re not compelling and useful, your training is going to lose effectiveness.
How to create training materials
In order to successfully create an employee training manual, you'll first need to individually develop training materials. With each material, there needs to be an objective, a goal, groups of employees, and a way to measure the results.
We’ve compiled 6 steps for effective training material development, here is how:
1. Start With Your Learning Objective
What will this training manual or set of training materials teach people to do? You might think the answer is obvious, but it’s imperative to identify your exact goals.
For example, your first instinct might be to say that a training manual is about your company's intranet. But it’s better to have a set of specific learning goals outlined:
- Users are able to log in and troubleshoot login problems.
- Users know how to use chat, messaging, and social features.
- Users can find and access relevant documentation for their responsibilities.
By setting out these goals in a specific manner, you can check to see that your training material includes all the relevant information.
If you don’t have an overall objective for your training program, start with that. What’s your ultimate goal?
Once you’ve identified an objective, you can use it to write specific goals for your training material development.
When possible, use the results of a learning assessment to guide the creation of training goals.
When you’ve identified areas where your employees are weak, you’ll know where to concentrate your training materials. Your learning objectives should answer these questions:
- Who will be learning the material?
- What, specifically, will they learn?
- What will they be able to do with the information after they’ve learned it?
- How will they maintain that knowledge?
- When will they complete the training?
2. Think About Delivery Methods
Modern technology enables countless methods for delivering training materials. Popular options include:
- written training manuals
- video series
- live webinars
- slide decks
- in-person training
- blended learning approaches
There’s no right choice, every audience is best suited to different methods. Choose the right method for your trainees. And don’t hesitate to offer multiple delivery methods.
A webinar can be supported by documentation, for example, or a slide deck by a voiceover video. And there may be other factors that influence how you deliver your training.
For example, a small company might be able to take advantage of in-person training more cost-efficiently, because you can train all the employees at once.
A large enterprise or a distributed company might benefit from online self-paced training that requires less coordination.
Different delivery methods are useful for various learning strategies. For example, video is a great medium for bite-sized learning. You could format your materials as FAQs, walkthroughs, wikis, or anything else that you think learners will find useful.
When in doubt, ask learners what they would find most useful. You’ll get a lot of different answers, but you may also see some trends that suggest a type of training material to develop.
3. Segment Training Information
You might be tempted to start writing your slides or scripting your videos at this point. But if you jump ahead, you’re likely to miss something. Start with a detailed outline instead. This makes the writing process easier, but also helps you organize your information in a way that best serves your trainees.
There are many ways to organize training materials, but in most cases, a job or task-based system is best. This approach builds on the knowledge that readers already have and makes for a reference document that can be used later.
For example, if you’re writing documentation on a sales process, you might organize it like this:
- How to Use This Manual
- Sales Prospecting
- Making the First Call
- Follow-Up Email Schedule
- Tips for Closing Deals Over the Phone
- Handing Off Customers to Implementation Team
- Further Resources
The information is presented in the order that the events will take place in the real world. When a salesperson needs to find information on a particular part of the process, they can skim the table of contents to figure out where they need to be.
Keep in mind that you should segment the information in your training materials in the way that will be most useful to your employees. In that case, a topical approach or even a hierarchical one might be more fitting.
Using a learning management system can also help with this issue, as you can tag and organize your content in any way you want. This means you can organize it however you want, and still make each piece of information as easy to find as possible.
4. Write for Quick Consumption of Content
Now that you have a goal for your training materials, a plan for delivery, and a detailed outline, you can start writing.
In the beginning, it’s fine to write down all the information you think is relevant. But when you get to the editing stage, it’s worth taking extra time to ensure that your trainees can quickly and easily consume content.
It’s easy to overlook this step of training material development. There are so many other things to think about. But if employees can’t quickly learn from your training materials, they’re not going to use them, and that defeats the purpose. Employees are busy, and they need access to information quickly.