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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.


~ June 2005 ~ Topics

Trainer Skills

Trainers need three types of skills; intellectual, personal, and presentation. Those skills in harmony go a long way to enhancing the training environment. Use this checklist to see if there are ways you can improve.

Intellectual Personal Presentation
  • know the subject
  • use language well
  • knows how adults learn
  • research the topic
  • sees application of information
  • sees merit in information given
  • seeks new information on topic
  • budgets resources
  • cooperative; team oriented
  • at ease socially
  • sense of humor
  • handle challenges
  • optimistic
  • diplomatic
  • clear speaking voice
  • prepared
  • control annoying nonverbal behaviors
  • variety of teaching methods
  • interactive
  • reads audience well
  • uses brevity

Want more ideas for training? Check out our online bookstore for Slide Show on a Shoestring, by Nancy Macduff. Details for Slide Shows Book

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Steps to Effective One-to-One Training

Many managers of volunteers do their training one volunteer at a time. Here is an outline of one method to organize training that is one-to-one.

Step 1 ~ Preparation

1. Understand how adults learn.
2. Be respectful of differences in learning styles.
3. Do a task analysis of what you will be teaching.
4. Prepare audio-visual aids (samples, examples) to aid your teaching.
5. Prepare job aids for learner.

Step 2 ~ Meet with Volunteer

1. Determine the level of knowledge (needs assessment) of volunteer.
2. Adjust training outline to begin at volunteer competence level.
3. Describe task in relationship to the whole work of the organization. Set it in context (overview).
4. Review your objectives with trainee.

Step 3 ~ Instruction/Training

1. Do a small portion of task (demonstration).
2. Show samples, examples, and finished product.
3. Vary the teaching techniques to involve learner.
4. Ask lots of questions! Talk less, listen more.
5. Model correct behavior.

Step 4 ~ Volunteer Practice

1. Arrange teaching techniques where volunteer demonstrates their competence.
2. Ask volunteer to compare what they did to samples.
3. Encourage volunteer to identify the errors they made (correction by volunteer means they understand mistake).
4. Praise that which can be praised.
5. Review the job they have completed in relation to others.
6. Continue steps 1 - 5 depending on complexity of task.

Step 5 ~ Follow-up

1. Arrange for volunteer to bring you samples of their work.
2. Stop and visit with volunteer to answer questions.
3. Be positive about their progress.
4. Retrain as needed.
5. Get feedback from volunteer on the effectiveness of your training.
6. Revise your training plan based on needs expressed by learners.

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Training in Bowling Green, Kentucky

The ALIVE Center, of Bowling Green, Kentucky is offering a workshop on volunteerism to area non-profits. The workshop is designed to help people manage volunteers more effectively. The workshop is being held Tuesday, June 7th, 2005 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm at the ALIVE Center.

Nancy Macduff of Macduff/Bunt Associates, a training and consulting service of Walla Walla, WA will be presenting information on volunteer team supervision, motivation and retention of volunteers, legal risks and successful episodic volunteer events.

These workshops are offered FREE but you must register by contacting Tracy Harkins, ALIVE Grant Facilitator, tracy@alivebg.org or 270-782-0824. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.


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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