How to Deliver Effective Training for Social Intranets

fly-birdies-fly-550Last week we discussed 7 Tips for Designing Your Intranet Training Program. Today we move into the classroom: tips for actually delivering the training.

1. Create a comfortable learning environment

A new social intranet requires employees to use new technology and change the way they work. Whether they admit it or not, many employees find change and technology scary. So one of the main goals of social intranet training is to remove fear and uncertainty, helping users to be comfortable with the new intranet. This requires a positive, comfortable training atmosphere:

  • Make a warm, inviting introduction
  • Leave time for slower users to keep up
  • Frame people’s mis-steps positively so they don’t feel embarrassed
  • Create a flexible agenda

2. Ensure each participant has a computer

People learn best by doing. They won’t remember how to do specific tasks just from watching someone else do them on a big screen. People have to see and then do.

Ideally, every trainee has their own laptop and brings it to training. If that’s not possible, ensure each trainee has a computer to use and is logged in as themselves.

3. Train in teams

Social intranets provide tools for team collaboration, so your training should reflect that. Try organizing training classes by team. While you’re working through practical training scenarios, teams can start connecting and coming up with ways they can use the intranet together.

4. Practice logging in

The most important task a user absolutely must be able to complete is to log in. If users don’t know how to access your intranet, you have no hope of succeeding. Teach users how to login. Show them where to find the URL. Explain how to log in from home and mobile. Do it several times. Get them to save the intranet link to their bookmark bar and setup a shortcut on their mobile phone. Show them how to reset their password. This step may seem really simple, but it’s so important.

Add quick links to your intranet from your browser bookmark bar and your mobile home screen.
Add quick links to your intranet from your browser bookmark bar and your mobile home screen.

5. Train users on real-world tasks

If you show users how to complete real tasks — tasks that will benefit their day-to-day work — the training will be more interesting and more valuable.

If you are planning a training session for a team, work with the team’s leader to identify a few of the team’s tasks that can be used during the training. For example, perhaps team members regularly create, update and share meeting agendas. Make your tasks and use cases as specific and relatable as possible.

Think about:

  • How critical are these tasks for day-to-day work?
  • How do the tasks align with your intranet strategy?
  • What are the current things people are having problems doing on the intranet (or in your old systems)?


Instead of: “Try searching for something.”

Better: “Search for the expense report form.”

Best: “You’ve returned from a business trip and have receipts to submit. Where would you find the information and forms for this process?”

6. Encourage users to help each other

As you demonstrate tasks, some people will naturally pick them up more quickly. In these cases, ask the quick learners to help folks next to them.

Since the best way to learn something is to teach it, the people who show others will learn quickly. The social interaction between people makes the training more lively and interesting, and the people receiving help get one-on-one attention. It also reduces the burden on the trainer.

A model training class. Participants are smiling, using their own laptops, and helping each other discover intranet features.

7. Use repetition

In order for a new piece of information to stay in your long-term memory, it has to be repeated. Some experts recommend repeating things twice in two minutes, then again within two hours.

So for any individual task you want people to learn, try to have them repeat it twice in quick succession, and then again later on in the training.

8. Allow time for discovery

Have you ever seen a two year-old explore the world? They discover so much by testing, trying, and exploring. Grown-ups can learn that way too.

Design your training with flexibility for people to click around the new social intranet, find new things, and make discoveries. This will increase trainees’ interest, energy level, and comfort.

If possible, have people demonstrate to other trainees what they discover and then provide the official explanation to go along with it.

Conclusion: Engaging, Interactive, Exploratory Training

In order to make sure your users really learn, design the training to be engaging, interactive and exploratory. And remember that a good training session does more than just teach people things — it builds stronger emotional connections to the new social intranet.

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