Do you have a training crutch?

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what's your training crutch?I have always prided myself with being a trainer that doesn’t rely on PowerPoint to deliver a face-to-face session.  Don’t get me wrong, I do use it, but I’m quite confident running a session with just a flip chart and some markers and in fact that is what I prefer to do much of the time.

Consequently, it’s never phased me when I’ve arrived to set up for a session and found no projector, no scart cable, no working USB port, etc etc – and lets be honest, these types of hiccups are not uncommon in our line of business.

Imagine then my surprise when I arrived at a venue for a session earlier this week and I discovered that not only did they have no projector, they also had no flip chart paper (they had run out and the delivery wasn’t due to arrive until the next day).

I was momentarily stumped.  How on earth was I going to deliver the session effectively without PowerPoint OR a flip chart!  In that moment, I realised that I had come to rely on a flip chart the way some people rely on PowerPoint to facilitate.  I had become so used to standing next to a flip chart, drawing up models, getting delegates to brainstorm on flips etc that I’d started to limit my thinking around how learning can be delivered.

I decided to use this as an opportunity to do things a bit differently.  I did things like:

1.  Played the videos to small groups (I had my laptop with me), in a round robin style.  So one group would be watching the video and having a discussion, whilst the other groups would be working on different exercises all of which took around 20-25mins.  After the time, the groups moved “stations” to the next exercise until all groups had completed all exercises.  At the end of the hour, we had a plenary discussion with the whole group to identify key learnings/messages.

2.  I prepared a few diagrams of key models on scrap A4 paper during the break.  I issued one to each small group and they could follow along with the presentation using the diagram in front of them.

3.  I emphasised the importance of people taking notes for themselves during the session as there would be no flips for them to take pictures of!  (Something that I’m seeing happening more and more when I’m facilitating)

4.  Used post-it notes to create talking walls and capture the key leanings from group discussions.

So, all was not lost and the session actually went extremely well.  (I’ll still be popping a blank flip chart pad into the boot of my car from now on though!  :D)

When you’ve been facilitating for a while (and even when you are new!) you find ways that work for you and it’s easy to stick with them.  I’d encourage you to take some time to think about what you are using as your training crutch and what you would do if it was taken away?  Perhaps try facilitating without your favourite tool or aid and see how you get on – challenge yourself!


I’d love to hear how you get on – let me know in the comments below, on our facebook page or on twitter.


Founder of Zostera Ltd and The Trainers CPD Club. I've worked in L&D for over 16 years across both the public and private sectors.

Posted in Facilitation, Training Tagged with: , , ,
2 comments on “Do you have a training crutch?
  1. Dorothy Armstrong says:

    Thanks Fiona
    I enjoyed reading your post and congratulate you on your flexibility and learning from the situation. Dorothy

    • Fionap says:

      Hi Dorothy, Really pleased you enjoyed the post. I think it’s important that we (as L&D folk) are able to reflect on our practice and adapt. It’s especially important for me since I work with other Trainer/Facilitators and am always encouraging them to do it! Leading by example an all that. :) Thanks for taking the time to comment. Fiona.

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