When training Microsoft Excel, I usually like to keep my class sizes reasonably small. I like to interact with everybody on an individual basis, helping out as necessary and answering all their questions, so usually I try to keep classes under 10, though will occasionally stretch to 20 in a virtual environment.
Yesterday was quite a shock to the system.
I had been invited to become one of the trainers on a massive internship programme for an international bank, taking on 2,000 new interns globally. I would be working in the North American group, and we were to provide Excel training for three groups, each of about 200 new interns, yesterday. For each session in the day, a lead trainer would present the topic, webinar-style, demonstrating various features and talking the attendees through the subject. While this was happening, two facilitators would pick up any questions in the chat. Next, the interns would have time to do one or more practical exercises, so they could try out the skills they had seen demonstrated. To help them with any difficulties, they could visit one of three breakout rooms: the lead trainer and the two facilitators taking a room each. My lead trainer arranged a meeting for the three of us earlier in the week so that we could finalise details of roles and timings, so after this I was fully prepared and raring to go! 200 delegates – by far the largest group I had ever worked with!
The day before the course, we were notified that the three groups would now be combined, so there would be some 600 interns, 3 lead trainers and 6 facilitators. The lead trainers would share the 8 learning sessions between them, and the timings were adjusted to allow for a longer introduction and setup period.
In the end, over 700 interns were present and, as far as we can tell, they maintained very good engagement during the course. I was one of the facilitators and had a busy time answering chat questions and then running my breakout room. Because of the time difference, my working day was 1pm to 10.30pm and, as there was a challenging exercise at the end, I had to be at my very best at 10pm in order to help out with the most advanced questions as the interns built pivot tables, charts and set up presentations in PowerPoint.
We finished pretty much exactly on time and received warm expressions of appreciation from the delegates as they departed. A great success!