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Content vs. Time Constraints: Make the Better Choice for Your Employees

Imagine this scenario:

You are a business owner who needs to train your employees to use a new business system. Looking at the training (aka PowerPoint slide deck) for the old system, you estimate that you will need about 5 minutes per slide, or about 60 minutes. You update the old slides to show the new parts of the business system, invite everyone to an hour long meeting, and prepare to deliver the training.

What could go wrong, right?

The truth is...everything could go wrong.

The employees want to know what will happen to the old system, why there’s a new system, exactly how to use the new system (which they did not learn during the training for the old system), and many, many other things that you have not planned for. The resulting training course runs over three hours, is disjointed, and veers so far off course that no one leaves truly knowing how to use the new system. I have witnessed this exact scenario more than once during my time as a corporate instructional designer.

Here’s the problem: trying to base a new training program on the number of slides that you have OR on an older training program ignores many of the tenets of effective training.

I have encountered many, many managers who want to know how long a training course will take after they have given me an outdated slide deck. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to adequately estimate how long a training course will take based on the number of slides in a presentation. Also, consider your learners and your business goals when developing a training program: does it truly MATTER how many slides are in a slide deck, anyway? What truly MATTERS is the changed behavior and/or understanding that your employees gain after completing the training program.

Here are the top 2 ways that you can effectively trim content to stay within time constraints:

1. Edit, edit, edit

All of the content of your training session should be directly related to the learning objectives that were established during the Analysis phase (related to the ADDIE model) of planning. Ruthlessly remove any content that is not directly related to helping your employees change their behavior.

For example, that fascinating, but fluff, story about retrieving a stuck pipe? Axe it out and save it for the happy hour after the training is finished. The five slides that tell the history of the content you’re teaching? Select all of those unnecessary slides, press Shift + Control and then enthusiastically hit the Delete button. Your learners will thank you for staying on task and not boring them with unnecessary information.

2. Define clear and targeted learning objectives

Think of your learning objectives as a light on a lighthouse: whenever your content seems to drift off to the sea of unnecessary, return to the learning objectives and correct your course. Here’s my mantra associated with deciding if content should remain in a training program: If it’s not aligned (with the objectives), then we don’t have time!

If your business needs help defining training objectives that are related to growing your business, email me today at

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