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Paper management techniques

Category: Training

Organization is a key factor in ensuring that a training session will be successful. A great deal of time will be spent on advance preparation of the venue, contact and registration of participants, and preparation of those who will serve as instructors. As you organize these various facets of a training, you will likely deal with large amounts of paper. Develop a system in advance for dealing with the materials and records that will be related to a particular training.

The best way to ensure that participants receive everything they need is to organize the material for them in advance. Materials may be distributed prior to the training, during registration, at the first session, or as a follow-up to the training session.

Distributing Materials in Advance. The advantage of distributing materials in advance is that participants will have an opportunity to review them before the training and ideally will come to the meeting better prepared. The disadvantage is that it can be expensive to distribute materials in advance. In addition, participants may forget to bring the materials to the training. If you distribute materials in advance, consider bringing a small quantity of extra materials to the training to accommodate those who have not brought their materials.

Distributing Materials During the Training Session. Another option is to prepare materials for distribution at the time of the training. This is best for materials that are specific to a workshop activity such as a case study or group exercise. In such instances, you may not want the participants to prepare in advance. The disadvantage of this option is that participants will not have an opportunity to review materials before the training. However, you will have more time to prepare materials and there may be substantial cost savings by distributing materials on site. In addition, on-site distribution also ensures that all participants have the required materials available at the time of the training.

Distributing Materials after the Training. Materials can also be distributed after the training has been completed. This option is best for materials that are generated during the course of the training. The obvious disadvantage of this option is that materials received after the training has already occurred are less likely to be reviewed.

Whether you choose to distribute materials in advance, on site, or after the training, it is strongly recommended that materials be organized in a way that will enable participants to easily reference information. Binders are ideally suited to training meetings as handouts and materials can be divided by subject. Binders also allow the owner to add or remove materials as needed.

When preparing materials for participants, be sure to

include relevant publications and sample forms;

include important information;

attempt to maintain consistent formatting for documents developed by instructors;

when possible and appropriate, distribute materials electronically, either by e-mail or the posting of materials on a district Web site that may be accessed «on demand» by participants;

consider the cost of binders, copies, tabs, etc.; and

consider how much time it will take to make copies, collate, and organize documents.

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