Need To Practice Coaching Skills? Have A Conversation.

Having A Conversation To Practice Coaching Skills

What are two of the most important parts of good coaching; knowing how to talk to your employees and modeling the behavior you want them to display. You would think that any training program designed to teach coaching skills would include these two principles within it, wouldn’t you? Yet when I was reviewing one of our older training programs (one we had purchased from an outside vendor several years ago), the program didn’t really allow the learner to practice either one of these things. I decided it was time for a re-design of the program so that learners would still receive the pertinent content but in a more meaningful manner and get the opportunity to practice what was taught in the program.

Conversations With Coach Chris

I had seen examples of interactive conversations on the internet created by several vendors and even other Instructional Designers on the Articulate© eLearning Heroes website, and thought that might be a great way to allow learners to practice what was taught in the program. All it took was a microphone, sound editing software along with my regular authoring software, and the right voice to make what I had envisioned a reality.

So how did I transform blah “just click the ‘Next’ button” training into a personal conversation with the learner about coaching? It was easier than you might think.

I decided the revised program needed a back story to it with a main character that would mentor the learner and have “conversations” with them about coaching skills. So I created Coach Chris, the new coach of the Blue Bombers football team. Coach Chris shared his story of how he took over a team that was losing all of its football games and made them into a success story by using the correct coaching techniques.

I then wrote the scripting for the pieces of the program that I wanted to be conversational in nature and used one of my fellow trainers to record Coach Chris’s side of the conversation. I used a snowball microphone with a sound filter in front of it and sound editing software to record and edit each piece. Then all I had to do was import each sound clip onto the page where it was needed in my authoring software as I was building the program.

Throughout the program I allowed the learner to have a conversation with Coach Chris. He would ask the learner questions and he/she could select from one of three answers to continue the conversation. Depending upon the answer selected, the conversation branched off accordingly. Coach Chris answered the learner both via an audio file that would play upon landing on the page and through the same text showing up on the screen. This way both auditory and visual learners were covered, as well as the contingency was already in place in case the user’s computer couldn’t handle the audio files.

Practice Makes Perfect

If a learner chooses a less than successful answer, Coach Chris provides the learner with feedback based upon what they have just learned and guides them in the correct direction so that their coaching skills improve. I tried to make the questions and answers sound more conversational than your standard multiple choice question and answers. Sometimes the answers were even silly or sarcastic just to try to make the conversations a little more realistic given the topic involved.

By creating these conversational sections in the training, I am letting students practice what they just learned in a more realistic manner than if they were answering just plain old multiple choice questions. Learners have to apply what they’ve learned rather than regurgitate back what they just read. This allows better retention of the material because they are practicing it not just reading it.

The colorful backgrounds I used were a far cry from the original plain ones. I built the football field inspired backgrounds using a combination of PowerPoint and GoAnimate© software. By giving the program a more colorful background that included various scenes from football practices held by Coach Chris, it made the background story that wove throughout the program more credible and pulled the learner into the story.

At the end of the program, Coach Chris gives several step-by-step examples of how he used the coaching techniques discussed throughout the program to improve his team’s skills. Learners could ask him questions to get him to tell them more about the examples until they understood exactly how it all worked.

Final Word

By using this conversational technique, learners became more involved with the content and retained it better. Better retention allowed them to remember the techniques so that they could use them in their own everyday coaching sessions. The remake of this program successfully helped build the leadership skills of our management personnel and made them all winning coaches just because they learned by having a conversation.

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