“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” Michael Altshuler
Classroom time management can be one of the most challenging aspects of a professional trainer’s job, and finishing your instructor-led training courses on time can be a daunting task. By incorporating a few tried-and-true classroom time management tips into your sessions, you can complete your training sessions on time!
Here are four strategies you can use to stay on track:
Start on Time
Starting your courses on time puts you in the best position to end your courses on time! Participants are inevitably going to run late—perhaps someone misread the start time, or went to the wrong training room. It happens!
When you push back the start time to accommodate those who arrive late, it not only jeopardizes the schedule, it also sends the wrong message. Latecomers may get the impression that it’s okay to be late since you waited for them to arrive; and those who arrived on time might feel their efforts were not honored or respected.
So, try starting your course with a fun activity like a brainteaser, puzzle, or icebreaker. These activities don’t have to be content-related, but using them sends the subtle message that the course will start on time. That way, if there is a latecomer, they can discreetly join in the activity without missing any course content. The same practice applies to starting on time after lunch and breaks throughout the day.
Check Your Schedule Regularly
Keeping a timed schedule near your course leader’s guide is a great way to ensure you stay on schedule. Before class, write down where you should be in your instruction for each hour of the course. Focus on which activities and exercises should be completed and when.
Using this strategy quickly shows you when you need to speed up or slow down to stay on track. The good news is the more comfortable you get with the course, the less dependent you’ll be on that schedule!
It’s also a good training strategy to have a clock beside your schedule as a visual cue to help you manage time more effectively.
Give Clear Instructions for Exercises
Before the start of each exercise, explain the objective, time parameters, and any supplies needed to complete it. Give the participants a chance to ask any questions to clarify their understanding. It also helps to have the same instructions posted on a multimedia slide or flipchart for reference. That way, they’re informed of the expectations and have been given an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. This allows them to work efficiently and saves you from having to use precious time by repeating instructions.
From a time-management perspective, clear verbal and written instructions allow your participants to hit the ground running. It sets them up for success, and helps you to manage your time properly!
Circulate Around the Classroom During Exercises
While your participants are completing a training activity or exercise, circulate around the room, visiting each table group or individual. This allows you to monitor the participant’s performance during the exercise. It also gives you the opportunity to answer questions and share reminders about how much time is left to complete the task. Your very presence encourages your learners to work more efficiently, especially if they’ve gotten off task by having side-bar conversations about something that is not content-related.
Efficient time management is critical in the corporate training environment, and I’ve learned over the years that if I don’t manage my time, it will manage me!
We’d love to learn other time-management tools or tricks that have worked for you! Please share them in the comments section below.
For more tips and best practices for properly managing your classroom instructional time, check out Langevin’s course, Instructional Techniques for New Instructors.