How to Use the EARN Training Center:
A Train-the-Trainer Guide on Delivering Effective Live Workshops
EARN’s Dinah Cohen Training Center for Disability Employment & Inclusion is a one-stop resource for comprehensive, curated multi-media training on disability inclusion. It features a wide range of tools and turn-key presentations that you can use to assemble a live workshop on disability-inclusion best practices. Examples include:
- PowerPoint presentations with accompanying speaker notes.
- Videos on a range of disability inclusion topics.
- Online trainings and archived webinars.
What’s the best way to put these tools to use in a live setting? Whether you build a presentation around one of our PowerPoint decks, play an archived webinar in a group setting, or use our videos to liven up a new workshop that you’re creating, the possibilities are endless.
Workshops can address any range of disability employment topics, and you may want to plan one or more based on topics of interest to your target audience. Another idea is to group several related topics to offer a half- or full-day event or even a “mini-conference.”
Hosting a live workshop can offer a number of advantages, even when online training is an option. Some people may simply prefer an in-person group learning environment, perhaps due to differing learning styles and a desire to meet others with shared interests and experiences. A live workshop also allows individuals to focus and step away from potential distractions, which may lead to better knowledge retention and overall efficiency. Live workshops also allow for two-way communication in a way that online learning may not.
Whatever your reason for planning a live workshop on disability inclusion, this guide offers tips for hosting a successful event. Get started by selecting from the menu below:
- Planning Makes Perfect
- Managing Registration
- Event Outreach and Promotion
- Equipment, Materials and Room Set-Up
- Make it Accessible
- Presenter Dos and Don’ts
- Engagement Activities
- Pre- and Post-Assessment Questions
- Course Evaluation
Planning Makes Perfect
Good workshop facilitation starts with good planning. Begin by outlining the who, what, when and where of your event.
- Who: Think about the audience you’ll be inviting to your event. Who are they? Are they an internal audience of colleagues from your workplace? Are they an external audience of participants from various organizations? Knowing your audience will help you market and tailor your presentation accordingly. It may also be worth considering potential partners to co-host the event with you. Such collaborations can help with content (for instance, by providing guest speakers), as well as promotion assistance and venue options.
- What: Before the details can fall into place, you need to choose the topic of your live workshop. Check out the topics in the EARN Training Center “Filter by Topic” drop-down menu for inspiration, and consider common questions that come up in your organization.
- When: Think about optimal times for your event, and consider polling people’s preferences. Is a workshop during traditional work hours best? What about evenings or weekends? Also think about time of year. October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month presents a fitting time to address the topics in the EARN Training Center, but there’s never a bad time to educate about disability inclusion.
- Where: When choosing a venue, consider convenience, accessibility and the size of your audience. If your office has a suitable conference room or auditorium, that may be the most logical choice, but other options include hotels, community centers and schools, including local colleges and universities.
Think about how you’ll manage invitations and registration. If it’s an internal event with a limited audience size, you may be able to manage attendance or RSVPs simply via email, or this may not be necessary if it’s an open, come-if-you-please environment. Other options include online registration systems and hard-copy response cards. Any and all of these options may work, assuming accommodations are offered for people who may experience accessibility barriers due to disability. If you want to offer online registration but do not have the ability to do so through your own website, one tool you can consider is Eventbrite (www.eventbrite.com). Registration forms are also a good way to gather information about participants’ accommodations needs.
Event Outreach and Promotion
Your workshop or training session will only succeed if people actually attend. And, unless it’s a required event, that takes promotion. Specific promotional strategies will vary based on the type of organization hosting the workshop, your location, the scope of your event and other factors. If it’s an internal workplace event, consider the communications channels you can use to reach your audience, whether it’s through email, internal newsletters, corporate intranets/events calendars, etc. If it’s an event for members of the general public, some common outreach tactics include the following:
- E-blasts to potential attendees.
- Direct mail campaigns to targeted mailing lists.
- Social media campaigns promoting the event (including traditional posts and sponsored ads).
- Media advisories/press releases sent to local media.
- Paid print advertisements in local newspapers and magazines.
- Requests for cross-promotion by partner organizations.
Equipment, Materials and Room Set-Up
As the date for your live workshop draws near, it’s important to coordinate any needed equipment and materials and consider room set-up.
Materials you may need include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Audio/visual equipment to access PowerPoints, videos and other course materials (i.e., computer, speakers, projector, extension cords, etc.)
- Copies of evaluation form (if used)
- Copies of handouts and materials (if used)
- Whiteboard or flipchart and markers
- Blank paper and pens or pencils for group participants
- Refreshments, if feasible
- Name tags or name tents, as appropriate
There are numerous ways to set up your meeting room, and group size tends to dictate the best approach. For example, “horseshoe” style (where three long tables form a “U” shape) might work better for a small group (5-15 people), while classroom style (chairs lined up in rows facing the front of the room) might work better for a larger group (15-30+). Of course, since part of the workshop likely entails presenting a PowerPoint or video, placement of audio-visual equipment may impact the room configuration. You will also want to consider how participants might gather for small group discussions, depending on the course activities you have planned.
Make it Accessible
It is essential that you ensure your event is accessible to people with disabilities—and given the subject matter of your training, the steps you take to ensure accessibility can make for a nice teaching moment during the session.
When it comes to ensuring accessibility for a live workshop, there are two main considerations: 1) access to the workshop venue, and 2) access to the workshop content.
The workshop should take place at a location that is accessible to anyone using a wheelchair or other mobility aid (for example, there should be a ramped or level entrance to the building and access to an elevator if the meeting room is not on the ground level). In addition, the space should have accessible restrooms and offer seating useable by all participants. If any print materials are used, versions in alternative formats, such as large print, CD or Braille, should be provided, if necessary. In addition, make sure that all videos being shown during the event include captions and that all PowerPoint presentations are accessible (be prepared to describe any graphics that are critical to the content of the presentations for attendees who are blind or visually impaired).
It is also important to determine whether a sign language interpreter, real-time captioning (CART) or assistive listening devices are needed. Please keep in mind that securing an interpreter, materials in Braille or other accommodations may take time, so this should be taken into account when planning the workshop. To facilitate this, it is important to provide participants the opportunity to request accommodations as part of the registration process.
For further information to assist in ensuring meeting accessibility, please see A Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings (www.adahospitality.org/accessible-meetings-events-conferences-guide/book).
Presenter Dos and Don’ts
What makes a good workshop? It’s all about engaging your participants through strong presentation skills, interactive exercises and other exemplary practices. Check out these presenter dos and don’ts.
- Create an agenda for the event and review it with participants prior to getting started.
- Enthusiastically welcome participants and review housekeeping items, such as accessible restroom locations, planned breaks, etc.
- In the event that participants do not know each other, conduct an ice-breaker activity (if group size allows), so that they can get to know one another. (An internet search for “ice breaker ideas” will lead you to lots of fun exercises.)
- Ensure that participants feel comfortable listening and speaking without judgment. This means ensuring everyone can contribute if they want to and encouraging participants to follow basic courtesies, such as taking turns to speak and respecting others’ comments.
- Consider your role to be a facilitator rather than an instructor.
- Incorporate engaging, interactive activities into the event. (See ideas below.)
- Get familiar with your talking points and deliver them in a natural, conversational way.
- Ensure that all course materials and handouts are offered in accessible formats.
- Forget to include a statement in your invitation inviting attendees to request reasonable accommodations or course materials in alternative formats.
- Read your script/talking points like a robot. Make it fun, conversational and engaging.
- Forget to pause for questions throughout the presentation. People don’t like to be lectured to—they want to be engaged and inspired.
- Play videos without open captions. Think about accessibility!
- Forget to publicly thank your speaker and attendees for coming.
There are many ways to take your workshop from “boring lecture” to “engaging, interactive experience.” The key is to weave in one or more engagement activities during the event. Examples include:
- Guest speakers who can bring the workshop content to life.
- Panels of speakers who can share their own personal experiences with a certain topic.
- Small group break-out sessions followed by report-outs to the larger class.
- Role-playing exercises.
- Having participants work independently and then presenting their thoughts and findings to the larger group for reaction.
These are just a few ideas. Be prepared to get creative and think outside the box!
Pre- and Post-Workshop Assessment Questions
Depending on the nature of the workshop, you may want to have participants answer pre- and post-workshop assessment questions. These are a few (typically two or three) questions asked of the participants both prior to a workshop beginning and upon its conclusion in order to measure their sense of knowledge gained. Pre- and post-workshop assessment questions should be simple and clearly align with the course’s learning objectives. For example, “On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your knowledge of XYZ topic?” When asking participants to fill in pre- and post-workshop assessment questions, it’s important to note that responses will be kept anonymous.
Whatever form your live workshop takes, it’s important to gather feedback from participants at the end in order to learn ways you might improve a similar event in the future. Consider creating an evaluation form that allows attendees to share comments and anonymously rate the presenter, course content, facility and more on a scale of one to five.
By keeping these tips and practices in mind, you’ll be on your way to planning and facilitating a compelling, engaging and successful disability-inclusion training event. Start planning your event today by exploring the available course content in the EARN Training Center!