Last updated December 4, 2023

Things do not always go smoothly when organizing training sessions. Indeed, there are several challenges faced by trainers and many of these can be avoided with careful planning (download our free checklist).

1. Cannot Access the Venue

This is a nightmare scenario as a trainer and this has only happened once to me, but when it does happen, it can of course be highly problematic.

There are though certain things you can do to avoid what is popularly known as “gate-keeping” access issues of this type. There are several things you can do to try and protect yourself against such as a situation including:

  • If possible, ensure that you have your own key card or set of keys for the venue, if there is any possibility of this.
  • Find out, if you can, who the main key holder is (or will be on the specific training day) such as a porter, and try to have their name and telephone number for emergencies. Alternatively, the contact information for the security person or person responsible for managing the venue.
  • Find out what hours the venue is normally open, i.e., are you using the venue in what would normally be considered out of hours? If so, make sure to follow one of the first two recommendations above.

2. Technological Equipment not Working

I absolutely would recommend you visit the venue before the training day, if at all possible.

If you are relatively easily able to get to the venue, such as because you live locally, go to the venue and ask to be shown the training room. If you can, check the facilities such as the projector and so on.

If you are viewing a venue with the intention of hiring it, then this will also be an opportunity to assess and check the technology and set-up in the training room you will use.

Also, ask if there is a support person who will be available should you need them, before and during the training. Venues that offer training will normally have a dedicated IT person.

If you can, try and get their telephone number and name and even chat with them beforehand, if possible, to run through your requirements in respect of IT, as the trainer.

3. Refreshments not Available as Expected

To make training an event that gets good feedback and is genuinely enjoyable for participants, providing refreshments such as tea, coffee, and food can be a great idea.

This provision does, of course, depend on the length of the day and if you can charge for the costs as part of the training package.

Conference refreshments
Conference refreshments

If you do plan to offer refreshments, make sure that the people providing the refreshments also will have no problems with access to the venue, know exactly what times the refreshments will be needed, and the precise quantities.

Many venues offer this as a service and this is useful in that it can take a lot of the organization out of your hands. It is no good to offer teas and coffee if they are cold!

4.  Problems with the Classroom or Training Room

Several issues can occur with the room including:

  • The classroom heating does not work and it’s too cold.
  • The windows do not open.
  • The training room does not have enough chairs.
  • There is no whiteboard etc.

I was in a training session recently and the training room was situated next to a train track and, every 5 minutes or so, the trainer had to pause for 10  to twenty seconds each time in order to be heard, once the trains had passed.

Ask to see the venue beforehand and assess carefully if it matches your needs.

Do consider also that things can change in the room in terms of chairs and other artifacts. So, it can be worth checking the room a few days beforehand if convenient to you.

5. Not Enough or Incorrect Manuals for Participants

Preparation is the key and ensuring that there are plenty of training packs for the participants is something you really should plan to avoid.

Do consider that you may get an extra 1 or 2 people to turn up on the day and so it is advisable to always have more copies than you will need on the day.

6. Unregistered People Show Up for the Training

Unregistered attendees turning up does not happen often but, when it does, it can produce an awkward situation.

The solution to solving this really depends on how many extra people turn up and if you have the resources and space to accommodate them.

Furthermore, who you are providing the training for (such as for a company) or if you have organized this independently, will need to be factored into the solution.

If you are faced with one extra person and dealing with a company’s employees then I tend to allow them to join the training and then I try and sort out things afterward if needed, in order not to create a negative atmosphere for the other participants.

If several extra people turn up, then it can be worth talking with the training coordinator if they are available to discuss the situation.

If this is a training session you have organized individually, this is the value of having a sign-in sheet and keeping a clear record of sign-ups.

8. Co-Trainer Fails to Turn up or Cancel the Day before

This can be a tough situation if you really see this training as a 2 person event ideally.

Nevertheless, what I recommend for all training is that both trainers are trained such that they can both deliver any part of the training as needed.

As an individual, even if I have half of the training that I am expected to deliver, I still make a concerted effort to be proficient also in the rest of the training.

9. Lack of Interaction During the Training

If you lack experience in providing training then the temptation can be to talk too much and to fail to adequately engage the audience.

The good news is that there are several ways in which you can make the workshops more engaging and include the participants more. Some ideas include to:

  • Facilitate discussions – Consider getting the participants to openly discuss certain topics related to the training. A good way to do this is to have a question on a PowerPoint that shows on screen that you first ask the participants to discuss. Afterward, you can then provide your suggestions and answers on another slide after the discussion. You might also want to tailor the discussion to suit the type of participants you have. If teaching nurses, for example, you might want to make the discussion related to their work environment.
  • Use Icebreakers and Training Activities – It is essential to make training fun and interesting and there is no better way than by introducing icebreakers and activities into the training session. Activities help to promote collaboration and the sharing of ideas and teamwork, and put participants at ease by giving them a chance to get to know each other. You can group people in pairs, or any number of people as groups and mix them up for different activities.
  • Interactive Apps and Tools – Some of the most fun training sessions I have held with younger employees have involved using phone apps to do real-time polling and other interactive apps. This is for everyone but if it might suit your audience (i.e. a tech or young audience) then this is certainly an option.

10. Dealing with Distractions

You cannot of course always control the training environment.

You can though, consider carefully the venue by considering, for example, is there a train track outside the window. If so, do the windows close properly, and is the sound manageable?

If unexpected events occur, stay adaptable. Try to address them swiftly without losing momentum in the training.

Classroom lesson plans
Dr Valeria Lo Iacono