Today’s guest post is written by Leon Noone.

Some years ago, when the headmistress of one of Australia’s most exclusive private schools for girls retired, she suggested that 85 percent of the teachers she’d managed over her career should have chosen another profession.

Her interviewer exclaimed. “But that would leave only 15 percent of the teachers.” She replied, “But imagine how good they’d be!”

The Headmistress and the Internet

That headmistress inspired this piece. You see, I reckon that about 75 percent of online training falls somewhere between ordinary and awful. If you use the web to teach or coach anyone in anything and would like to be in the top 25 percent, read on.


At the end of this post you will be able to:

  1. Specify the only professional way of measuring training success.
  2. Identify who bears the prime responsibility for training effectiveness.
  3. Create viable training objectives.
  4. Specify the most important elements of training design and when it occurs.

The Nine Absolute, Immutable Basics of Effective Online Training

  1. Quality planning determines effective training. The only professional way to measure training effectiveness is to show that the trainee can demonstrate the effective practice of the skills on the job. If the trainee can’t demonstrate the effective practice of the skills, the fault almost always lies with the trainer.
    Clever and pretty presentations will never compensate for poor training planning.
  2. Twelve magic words. Commence every training action with these words,”At the end of the training, the trainee will be able to ……” Sounds simple enough, but be careful.
  3. It’s about doing. Training is about doing. Each statement on your list must commence with a word describing an action. Never use waffle words such “understand,” “appreciate,” “learn,” or “gain insight into.” Let’s say you wanted to ensure a trainee “appreciated” the music of Jimi Hendrix writhing on the floor screaming. “I appreciate Jimi,” while listening to Les Paul, doesn’t cut it.
  4. Avoid the theory trap. Your trainee does not need to know how a reciprocating engine works in order to drive a car. He or she needs to know which control is which, where they’re located, and how to use them effectively. If you doubt what I say, ask LeBron James to explain the theory of human leaping.
  5. The essence of online training is design.
    • Always assume the trainee is unskilled and ignorant.
    • Start by describing the one big task the trainee must be able to do at the end of the training using the 12 magic words and actions.
    • Decide what the trainee needs to know in order to perform the action.
    • Always start with the final overall skill and work backwards to the beginning of the training.
    • For instance, if you’re teaching someone to drive a car, they’ll need to identify the controls, know where they are. and the purpose of each one before they start driving.
  6. It’s the trainer, stupid. Poor trainees are few and far between. The trainer plans and designs the training. Therefore, the trainer is responsible if the training fails. Would you accept responsibility if your new house started to fall apart? Of course not. You’d blame the builder and architect. Rightly so.
  7. The 75/25 Rule. Spend 75 percent of your time on planning and design of online training. Spend 25 percent of your time on presentation. Presentation is a function of planning and design, not the reverse. I suspect that is why so much web training is so appalling. It values posing over planning, and pictures over performance.
  8. Know what customers want. Customers are trainees. You promised them they’d be able to do something when they engaged you or purchased your package. You want them to be advocates for you. You want them to write glowing testimonials about the value of your products and services.
  9. How to get glowing testimonials. Grasp this: Gaining those testimonials will not depend on the quality of your product or service. It will depend on how valuable customers perceive it to be. That will largely be determined by the effectiveness of your training.

Ask yourself this, “Am I prepared to say to my clients, ‘At the end of this training you will be able to …..’ and guarantee the effectiveness of my training?”

Do you want to be counted in the 25 percent? If so, thank that headmistress.

Leon Noone helps managers in small-medium business to improve on-job staff performance without training courses. His ideas are quite unconventional. Read his free Special Report “49 Practical Tips for Removing Employee Apathy, Aggravation, and Resistance In Your Business.”