Great classroom training doesn't just happen by chance… it's scripted to happen

Just like an award winning big screen movie, a great live theater production or a popular hosted television series there are a lot of factors that contribute to making a classroom training session a fantastic experience for the participants. Yet central to all and regardless of the mode of delivery, all great productions rely on a compelling story, top talent, and a script that binds them together. Without a script that is followed, the production’s success is determined solely by chance and outcome ratings rise and fall based on random factors like room temperature and food service.

Production scripts for traditional or virtual classroom settings must serve two primary purposes: 

  1. Talent Preparation, and
  2. Talent Delivery.

Script writers must keep both of these requirements in mind as they lay out the production’s process, flow and, of course, the talent’s scripted interactions with the participants.

I’ve purposely used the scripting analogy of a movie, live theater, or a television show to get you to think and drive home the point about how actors and hosts have to prepare themselves prior to the actual delivery of their production either on stage or at a shoot location. Their delivery doesn’t just happen, it is practiced. And what do they practice from? A script, of course. A script that is complete and from which they can learn their lines. As they deliver “live” their practiced lines, do they do that all from memory? No… there are script assistants, coaches, teleprompters, and in the case of a well-run classroom, there is an instructor guide.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of instructor guides and unfortunately most have been pretty pathetic. They might have copies of the slides that the instructor will use, but then not much script for what they are to say or do. Time, other than start at this time, break for lunch here and finish by then… is also usually absent from the instructors play book.

When scripting your next guidebook for classroom based learning, consider some of these questions:

  • How long should the instructor dwell on a particular slide?
  • And what key points should they be making while displaying that slide?
  • What stories should they tell?
  • What knowledge checking of the participants should they perform?
  • What questions should they anticipate and what should their responses be?

Obviously these are not inclusive of all questions you as an Instructional Designer/Writer should be asking yourself as you chunk your lesson plans and script the Instructor and Participant interactions, but they are a start. Good questioning is the key to good script writing, so please think about this for each content chunk of your design… What should your Instructor be Saying, Doing, Asking, and what must they Know in order to deliver the content chunk effectively?