Content inspired by NTC Workshop Supercharge Your Technology Training presented by Jeanne Allen, Beth Kanter, John Kenyon, and Cindy Leonard.


Whether you find yourself wearing the Trainer Hat, or you’re an old pro, the nonprofit world can present a challenging array of training activities. And though you may have tons of variables to face – audience, time, topic, technology, in-person/online – having a simple structure to follow can help keep you focused and keep your audience on track.


A successful training should have three main parts. And each of those parts should be tailored to your content, your audience, and, most importantly, your amount of time.


The Opener

When you’re opening a training, you may focus solely on introducing your topic. But no matter what type of training you’re doing, it’s important that your participants are properly introduced to you, your concepts, and each other. A good opener will help loosen everything up, and will also give you – the trainer – an idea of what levels and experience you have sitting in the room.


When creating your opening:

  • Keep time. You don’t want to spend way too much time on your opening and have to rush through the rest of the presentation
  • Make it interactive
  • Stay away from too personal, too silly, or too…ahem…touchy (i.e. activities that involve touching each other should be approached with caution…especially if you have a group of people who don’t know each other)
  • Focus your activity on the content or building relationships in the room
  • Prepare to have fun – stay loose and encourage your participants to relax and settle in


The Body

This is the meat of your presentation. It’s the part where you introduce and build upon your concepts. You’ll want to consider your goal before trying to write your curriculum. Do you want your participants to be able to do, feel, or behave differently after your course? Or do you just want them to learn a skill. Focus all your activities on your goal. But also consider what you feel comfortable facilitating.


When creating your body:

  • Keep time. A great rule of thumb is to limit content presentation to 10 minutes and then switch to something interactive to keep participants engaged
  • Create an activity for each piece of content…and when you can, make that activity include movement
  • Read the room. If you have great experience in the room, leverage your participants to share knowledge
  • Make it a conversation. Encourage your participants to share content and ask questions throughout the training


The Closing

Your closing shouldn’t be limited to a Q&A session. This is where you have plenty of opportunity to summarize what should have been learned, gather any action items, and ask for open feedback. Sending evaluations post-course is fine, but people often forget how they felt during the training a few hours after leaving.


When creating your closing:

  • Summarize the content learned and what activities you used to demonstrate that content (depending on how cryptic the activity was, this may be mindblowing for your participants)
  • Consider what you’d like to have feedback on and prepare some prompts for the audience if feedback isn’t openly shared
  • Allow your participants time to reflect and note their action items
  • Offer your appreciation and share any plans for follow up activities



Have you presented or attended an amazing training session? Tell us about it in the comments!