It looks so easy from the outside – just slap together a title and an abstract, set up a web page, and the money just comes rolling in, right?
Nope. I’ve done training classes around the world, from conferences to private classes to cruise ships. Since we just launched another one, I figured it’s a great time to share some of the logistical questions you’ll want to consider. It’s not a complete guide on how to plan a training class – it’s just a starting point:
Who will attend your training class?
- Who’s your target audience?
- What’s their job description?
- What’s the pain they’re facing?
- Who’s paying their admission fee? (Is it self-paid, or paid by their employer? This influences how you design the class, where you hold it, what you charge, etc.)
What are you teaching?
- How long will the class be?
- How many modules will it have?
- Should you break it up into multiple classes?
- Will you have co-presenters?
- Whose material will it be? (Sometimes you can license the material from someone else.)
Where will you hold the class?
- Will you hold just one, or a series?
- What’s the minimum, target, and maximum number of attendees?
- What will be the training setting? (Classroom, theater, boardroom, small tables)
- How will attendees get their drinks, snacks, and meals?
- Will you accommodate students’ special needs like meal preferences? (Gluten-free, dairy allergies, kosher, etc)
- What will the schedule be, including the start time, breaks, and end time?
- Where will the students stay? (Nearby hotels, AirBNB, commute to other areas, parking)
- Will the schedule accommodate attendee travel times? (Will students be able to leave early on the last day?)
What will your training attendees need?
- What base knowledge do attendees need to bring to the class?
- How will you ensure they have it?
- What equipment do attendees need to bring?
- What equipment should they NOT bring?
How will you handle the registration fees?
- What price will you charge?
- Will you offer discounts for individuals or groups?
- How will you take registrations and payments?
- Will your registration system pay you as the orders come in, or hold the money until after the event completes?
- Will you accept cash, credit cards, purchase orders, or invoices?
- Will you accept purchases at the door?
- Will you allow refunds, and are there any limitations?
- What happens if you need to cancel the class?
How will you market the training class?
- How will you get the word out about the class?
- Will you offer referral discounts or bonuses?
- Do you have a contact list or client list that you can sell pre-orders to?
What will your class’s costs and profit be?
- What will the venue charge, including A/V, meals, room setup, and cleanup?
- Will you need any additional gear like backup computers?
- Will you hire ushers to handle registrations and security?
- What will you provide to the attendees, like handouts or t-shirts?
- Will you have marketing expenses for advertising or referrals?
- Will you hire videographers to record the event?
- Will you have your own travel and hotel costs?
- Will your business insurance cover damage to the facility? To the attendees?
- If something goes horribly wrong on the day of the event, like you fall ill, will you be financially able to grant full refunds?
It’s a lot of questions, and you don’t have to have all of the answers for your first training class. (I certainly didn’t.) But the more answers you have, the less surprises you’ll have as the event draws closer, and the more successful your event will be. Your attendees will notice, appreciate, and talk about your attention to detail.
Did you have to pay back Catalyst Ranch for all the damage we caused? When Jeremiah threw that table out the window it seemed like a good way to reinforce the point he was making about tables and windowing functions.
Add “how will you keep control of the class” to the list. It is so easy to lose time when people go off on a tangent.
James – yeah, I didn’t include a lot of the mechanics of presentation delivery, but that’s certainly a big one.
Thanks for that article, Brent! I haven’t thought of some of these till now!
One question comes into my mind – when you are asked by a company / organisation to deliver a training for them (and you do not have the materials ready), would you tell them you will charge x amount of $ for the preparation of the course itself or do you include that step in your overall price?
Boris – thanks! If I don’t have the materials already, I ask myself if I want to build that training class for my own use. If I think I can repeatedly present it to large numbers of clients, then I might be willing to eat the development cost. Otherwise, I give a price quote to the client (typically 10-20 hours labor per hour of delivered material, depending on complexity) and ask them if the training is worth it to them. Typically it’s not.
Fair enough. Totally agree for the first case study. Was wondering about the second one and how you approach it! Thanks 🙂
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