By Brittany Rhodenhiser
Senior Manager of Project Management
Organizing a large-scale live training event, whether regional or national, can be exciting—and stressful. You’re looking forward to bringing your organization together, discussing future goals, and building capabilities to make those goals a reality. Meanwhile, the sheer mass of logistical details involved in running an event smoothly can be overwhelming.
For years, I’ve helped organizations plan and carry out major regional and national meetings. Recently, I sat down with my fellow project managers to discuss the elements that consistently result in a great event.
We all agree the following 10 steps are crucial for success.
1. Learn from past training events.
Begin by looking back to your last large-scale live training. Review what went well and, just as important, what didn’t. Keep these lessons in mind as you plan your next event. If you had participants complete surveys after the meeting or conducted a debrief session (good ideas that we’ll come back to later), returning to this feedback can be a great way to take stock of your last event and start planning for the next one. If you don’t have survey data, consider hosting a focus group with past participants to find out what they’d like to gain from an upcoming meeting.
2. Collaborate with sales and marketing leadership.
Meet with your marketing and sales leadership well in advance of your next event to align on goals. Be sure to discuss any new marketing materials, messaging, and brand updates to incorporate into the training.
3. Create and distribute a training needs analysis.
Ensure all key stakeholders—not just sales and marketing leadership—are aligned early in your planning process. Develop a needs analysis worksheet for the training and distribute it to them. Use their feedback to assess needs and goals. Then work with your team to create strategies and tactics to meet them.
4. Establish your budget.
Confirm your budget at the outset of your planning and discuss with your team how it will shape your strategy. Consider how your training materials will be impacted by your budget. For example, can you create a video or do you need to stick with print materials? Be sure to implement a budget assessment process you can use throughout your planning and materials development to help stay within your means.
5. Select the right partner.
Once you’ve completed steps 1 through 4, determine if you’ll be creating the training internally or enlisting the help of an external partner. When looking for a partner, be sure they have expertise in your training area of focus, can work within your budget, and can meet your timeline. Select a partner you trust—one who can add value to your training.
6. Establish realistic development timelines.
Oftentimes, when new marketing or sales materials are being released, the training team must work around other teams’ schedules. Set timelines for your team that take these schedules into account and allow for enough time to gather and incorporate key strategies and feedback. Also, consider any medical or legal reviews that must take place and allot appropriate time for these reviews—and possible re-reviews. Lastly, be sure to allow enough time to load materials into a meeting app, if you’re using one, and print and ship materials to your meeting site.
7. Develop a communications plan.
Start communicating with your organization early on and continue to pulse out communications to gain and maintain alignment on your event. The best way to stay on top of this is by creating a communications plan ahead of time. Beyond sharing logistical information and prework assignments, communications align your organization on event goals and logistics, build excitement, and gain participant buy-in.
8. Don’t neglect meeting execution.
Meeting execution includes preparing facilitators so they fully understand workshop goals, content, leaders’ guides, and participant materials. This step is often overlooked because teams focus so heavily on the ramp-up to a meeting that, ironically, not enough time is devoted to carrying out the meeting.
9. Reinforce what participants have learned.
Research has shown that without reinforcement, much of what participants learn during training is forgotten. Be sure to establish a series of reinforcements, such as gamified challenges and manager reinforcement guides, so the progress made during your training is not lost.
10. Follow up with a meeting survey and debrief.
Remember Step 1? Well, the best time to start preparing your next training event is right after the one you just finished. Ask participants to complete a survey and hold a debriefing session to discuss their meeting experiences. The information you gather can give you the information you need to make your next large-scale live training event even better!
As the main link between clients and our team, Brittany Rhodenhiser keeps everything running smoothly and everyone working happily together. She brings more than 10 years of project management experience in the life sciences and healthcare industries and a degree in business marketing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to the mix. Outside of Encompass, Brittany enjoys spending time with her husband, 1-year-old son, and black lab, and is an avid volunteer in her community.