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VolunteerToday.com~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


The Training Page of Volunteer Today has practical trainer techniques and activities to make orientation sessions more productive and valuable. There are also ideas to help enhance the professional volunteer manager's training level.

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~ January 2004 ~ Topics

PowerPoint Tips

Do you use PowerPoint during your training sessions? Here are some tips to make it look good.

  1. Got too much text for one slide? Move to two slides. Click at the end of the last item you want on the first slide and press the enter key.
  2. Align objects perfectly. PowerPoint should look good. Make sure your objects line up. Select two or more objects and from the Draw toolbar, choose Align or Distribute. Select one of the options.
  3. Find free clip art. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has 20,000 free photos of weather, coastlines, and animals.
  4. Be sure to use a wide bar in a bar chart. Readability is increased with a wider bar.
  5. Print slide notes for reference when you are presenting. Choose File > Print. From the Print What drop down list on the print dialog box, choose Notes Pages > Okay.
  6. Resources for PowerPoint:
    • http://www.powerpointbackgrounds.com - for a variety of downloadable backgrounds by theme
    • http://www.powerpointers.com - articles on communicating more effectively with PowerPoint
    • http://www.microsoft.com/office/powerpoint - many free resources, including tips and hints.

Blended Learning

Blended training is a mix of different training technologies. Many companies are moving in the direction of blended learning, so prospective volunteers may be familiar with it form their employers activities. For volunteer programs it has the advantage of greater flexibility, timesavings for volunteer and staff, and the ability to tailor training. Here are some things to consider as you develop a blended learning environment in your organization.

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Analyze how you currently train volunteers. ILT (instructor led training), self study guides – online and on paper; video or audiocassette with workbooks, online learning, teleconferencing.
Bullet Image Who is the likely audience for training? Do they have access to the equipment needed to complete training? Do they all speak the same language? Do they have Web access? What are the preferred learning styles? How will they use what they learn? How much time can they give for training? How closely do you need to track their learning? The answers to any of the above questions might be different for different volunteer positions.
Bullet Image What are the characteristics of the content? How important is the information to the volunteer? Organization? Client/Customer? Is content knowledge, procedural, conceptual, or informational? Is group interaction required due to the task the volunteer will complete? How often do you need to up-date information?
Bullet Image What resources do you have available? Do you have the right equipment for creating the training or letting volunteers use it? Are the “experts” available to devote the time to develop the content of the course? Do you have a budget for the development of something other than ILT? How can you do it most cost effectively?
Bullet Image What are the conditions of training? How quickly do volunteers need to be “up to speed?” Do you have enough trainers for the number of volunteers? Do you have an appropriate number of volunteers to warrant the work of the expert trainer?

Gather a committee of experienced volunteers and staff who help with training. Review these questions and begin a plan to diversify the way you deliver training. Instructor led training appears to be the most effective, but it is not the only type of training available. Increasingly, volunteers are asking for diversity and flexibility in the way they receive training. Consider the blended approach.

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Name Tag Review

Distribute Name Tags to participants with a question that will be answered during the course of the training. Each person is told Eye Doctor Imageto put their name on the tag and to pay special attention to the answers to their question that is provided during the training.

At the end of the session, have each person stand and read the question on his or her nametag and answer it. Ask the class to comment on the answer and add additional information learned. This useful review takes about 20 minutes for a group of 35 people.

Interested in more information on training? Check out our online bookstore for Training Techniques in Brief, authored by Stan Smith and The Great Trainer's Guide by Sue Vineyard. Training Book Image Episodic Volunteering book Image The Great Trainer's Guide Book Image


Close to 200 colleges and universities offer academic programs on nonprofit and volunteer sector management. They are usually master's degree programs, but not always. American Humanics sponsors undergraduate programs, as well. If you are looking to push out the professional development window, consider taking a course at one of these colleges. A full list resides at http://pirate.shu.edu/~mirabero/kellogg.html. Thank Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with this list.

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