Tip Top Tech Training

Libraries are constantly changing and adding oftware, upgrading both software and hardware, and finding new applications for existing programs. Teaching others to use these new additions is a perpetual challenge. Dodie Gaudet from the Central
MA Regional Library System explains techniques and theories of training and incorporates audience participation in exercises and discussion. Learn how to structure a training session, prepare handouts, accommodate different learning styles, select methods of presentation and create an atmosphere conducive to learning. NETSL sponsors this program and their business meeting is included.

Tuesday morning, 8:30
Tip Top Tech Training

Dodie Gaudet
Bibliographic and Technical Services Consultant

Tuesday morning, 8:30
Tip Top Tech Training

Dodie Gaudet
Bibliographic and Technical Services Consultant

Been a supervisor and department head. Contract cataloger. New ILS every few months. Deliverer and Recipient of a lot of training. Aerobics instructor–talking and moving to music. Once sold textbooks.

Share your own experiences. This is a Learning Experience.

Training is an integral part of our Real Job. We’re going to be doing it forever, as long as we get new ILSs and new staff.

Preparation is very important. What do you expect of the audience?

Not all tips will be used for all situations. For example, practice time during training session might not always be needed.

Training sessions should be 2 to 3 hours max. Leave time for breaks. Take short stretching breaks.

Make sure you know what you’re teaching. Research. Learn peripheral subjects. Your energy and enthusiasm and confidence will transfer to the training session. Choose best and strongest material–you don’t have to cover everything.

Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
Tell them.
Tell them what you’ve told them.

Get their attention right away.

Why are we here? Give people a reason for listening. Involve the audience. Especially in a small group, let everyone introduce themselves.

Start from the beginning, including starting the computers and starting the program.

Don’t assume that the audience has any subject knowledge. Example, a transfer from another department. Don’t assume that people have a background.

Review any relevant history. Example, old cataloging rules, terminology.

Soften your assumptions: “You may already know.” Not “Of course you already know.”

Include every step.

Be clear. Reduce jargon. Each department has its own jargon. Define your jargon.

Paint a picture; use specific examples, showing all the steps all the way through.

Prepare examples of the most common mistakes! Typos, for example.

Speak to the listener’s wants and needs. What problems does the listener have that can be solved with this database?

Use gimmicks with caution. They could backfire.

Different people have different learning styles. Example: visuals and/or thorough descriptions. Kinesthetic. Conceptual and detail people. Little old lady, copy cataloger, had to learn new system. “What do I do??” Wanted to learn details first, then got the Big Picture later.

Give at least a couple of different examples, but no more than 2 or 3. Then move on.

Give some non-computer examples: answering machines, post mail.

Repeat using different explanation; don’t just repeat your last explanation.

End on time.


End with conviction, enthusiasm about what this new product will do for you.

Get feedback right away, especially if you’re going to be repeating the same training.

Give certificates of completion.

Handouts at the beginning, most of the time.

Use screenshots if at all possible. Be prepared in case no network connection, or system crashes.

Include information as to how quickly the next screen will appear.

Leave lots of white space for user’s notes.

Practice! Practice with any a/v equipment you may use.

Remember the places you had trouble learning.

Modify your handouts based on the dry run.

Rehearse your speech aloud.

If you’re working with other trainers, rehearse your parts.

Stay within your alloted time.

Exercise #1 is a 3 minute quiz. We “should” know, but we don’t. Like people with computers. They’re thinking they should know how to do this, but they don’t.

The Presentation

Make people feel comfortable. Let them introduce themselves. Tell a personal story related to the training. Let people know what to expect. Be attentive to the audience’s needs. Run through handouts.

Cover materials at a pace where people can absorb it. Allow ample opportunity for questions. If you’re using computers, make sure everyone is on the right screen. If it’s a big group, get proctors/coaches to help you. Watch the audience–have stretch breaks. Back stretch. Neck stretch. Hand and wrist exercises. Feet and ankle circles. See websites in handout for more suggestions.


Break it down into smaller chunks. Search the web for “If Dr. Seuss wrote technical manuals.” One example is at http://www.goshen.edu/~calvinfs/humor/suess.htm. Read the first stanza and ask the audience to repeat it. Now read it one line at a time and ask the audience to repeat the one line. Much easier!

Create an atmosphere conducive to learning.

Be patient, non-judgmental. Applaud success, inspire confidence. Encourage questions, experiments. “You can’t break it. And if you do, it’s not your fault.”

Training the Public v. training staff. Sometimes they ask questions beyond the scope of the training. Take it offline. If you’re covering it later, say that.

See link to Athol Library mouse exercises at http://athollibrary.org/mouseex.htm, for learning to use the mouse. Trainees with Parkinson’s may find it easier to use the mouse if they have a ruler that they can use as a guide. A touchpad may be easier for some people to use.

Give people the benefit of the doubt. Be patient. They’re doing their best. We weren’t all born knowing how to drive, for example.

At regular intervals, sum up what’s been covered and where we’re going.

If using overheads or workstations, use a pointer, not your fingers.

Don’t apologize to the listeners, and never tell them that you aren’t prepared. Bluff it out. Acknowledge any problems and respond to them as best you can. For example, if the room is too cold, we’ll get up and move around from time to time.

Pay attention to your own voice. Use vocal variety, not a monotone. Pause for effect after important points. Eliminate ahs and ums and other verbal tics. Toastmasters is good training for this.

Take care of yourself. Drink a lot of water and stay hydrated. Avoid milk and other dairy products just before speaking; it coats your throat and you’ll spend a lot of time clearing it. Avoid lots of caffeine and alcohol, overeating. Be well-rested. Stay in good physical and mental condition. If you’re a morning person, try to schedule training in the morning. Evening, then evening. Your biorhythms affect your audience.

Attend workshops and remember what it’s like to learn something new. Evaluate the presentations.

Always be prepared to give your next workshop, be constantly improving them.


Start on time, don’t retrace or repeat for late arrivals. If it’s an all day class, you can afford to wait 5 or 10 minutes. If it’s only an hour, no. Do introductions first, give latecomers more time. Ask for background, “what do you expect from this class?” Catch up during breaks.

If you’re preparing to teach to the public, practicing with staff will be different.

Different learning speeds? Handouts are helpful. Some people can continue on from the handouts while you help the slower learners catch up. Have proctors/coaches to help you. Combine exercises and break time for more flexibility.

“How to build a snowman” training exercise:
Establish your snowman credentials.
Explain what snow is.
How much is enough.
Wear glove and warm clothes.
Pick up a handful of snow and and pack it into a ball.
Add more snow until it’s big enough to roll along on the ground.
Make three snowballs of different sizes.
Stack them, starting with the largest and ending with the smallest.
Add a carrot for the nose, two lumps of coal for the eyes, an top hat, and a scarf.
Add two twigs for arms.

Another practice training exercise: how to boil an egg. (What’s an egg, and why would I want to do this to it?)

Confidence. Visuals. Teamwork.
It takes practice. Learning how to train other people takes practice, too. Just do it. We learn through teaching.

Do evaluation forms.