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What is the Optimal Length of a Training Course? (Trick Question)

The length of a training course can actually have a huge impact on the success of a learning objective. If it’s too long, you can easily lose your audience. If it’s too short, you run the risk of not landing your message or even covering everything you need to teach. But the question many businesses are left asking is what is the right length for a training course?

The right answer is that there is no one right answer. The truth is that there’s no magic number that will work for every subject, every audience, or every medium. The tough but best course of action to take is to explore the ideal course length, test out different strategies, and note what works best for your company.

Here are a few important questions to ask along the way.
1. What is the interest level and relevance of the topic?

It’s pretty clear that the trainee’s interest in a topic will play a significant role in the level of attention they can devote to a training session. Do what you can to tailor the lesson to needs of your audience. Don’t know what those needs are? Then you need to invest some time in finding out. The best way to do this is simply to ask. Make sure to customize your training to reflect the situations and lessons that the learner is most likely to encounter in their work. Without that relevance and interest level, no training session will be the appropriate length.

2. What degree of interactivity is appropriate?

Interactivity and engagement is an important part of successful training sessions. People retain much more from a lesson they participated in, compared to those they simply listened to or watched passively. Putting your learners in control of their learning experience will help to better engage them as active participants. Such trainings will hold their attention longer and be easier to recall after the training is complete. But not every lesson has clear opportunities for interaction. Keep that level of engagement in mind as you decide on the length of your programs.

3. What level of production value can you sustain?

Well produced learning opportunities are much more likely to make a positive impact on your learners. But high-production quality can come at a steep price. The created user experience can have a substantial impact on a learner’s willingness to remain engaged in the course material. Take note of the highest level of quality and production value you can maintain in your training session. If you notice a dip at a certain length, that’s your sign that a shorter training with higher production quality might be the right course of action. Think about how your material is organized, whether there are visuals that need to accompany each topic, the quality of the narration or lecturer, the interface of an e-learning environment, and so on.

4. How much content can you communicate?

You don’t need to sacrifice content for the sake of a brief training session. In fact, trying to cram too much content into a short session can cause more harm than good. This is especially true for e-learning courses. Remember that while the course can’t go on forever, your main objective is to train the audience. So be careful of your cuts, and when your training session gets too long, break it down into more meaningful and manageable training modules.

Are you looking to improve your training program?

Is your training effective?  If not, your training design may be outdated, boring, to lengthy, or missing the target. Clarity’s instructional design consultants work with your department managers and executive leadership to create more effective training programs. For more advice on how to design the right training program for your unique workforce, connect with the industry experts at Clarity Consultants today.