Planning for an event agenda doesn’t end with finalizing its design and content - there is a whole series of activities and preparation that must also be in place ‘behind the scenes’ in order to run a successful event and agenda.
The content of an agenda is led by a configuration of trainers and co-trainers, frequently with distinct roles, areas of expertise, and training styles; this is on top of any other support staff who all together make up the training team. For participants, the experience of a training event should be as smooth and seamless as possible - the training team can better ensure this by building into the agenda scheduled opportunities before, during, after each day of, and immediately following an event to coordinate with one another.
Who is facilitating which session? How will changes be made to the agenda based on participant feedback? What is to be done in the event of an emergency? To have these important, ongoing conversations and remain consistently on the same page with one another, trainers and training staff must make sure that sufficient time is set aside to discuss and finalize these points in the Trainer Coordination Checklist below.
Pre-Event, the roles of everyone directly involved in the training, including trainers, co-trainers, supporting staff, organizations, and participants should be clear amongst those running the training. On the first day, introduce everyone who will be in the room if this hasn’t already happened before the event, so that it is clear to participants as well.
The schedule of how the trainers and co-trainers will lead, co-lead and/or support various sessions. Given how much energy it takes to be the main trainer, it’s advisable to trade off leading sessions when you have qualified co-trainers. Be careful to pace yourself so you don’t burn out during the training.
There is great utility in having trainers offer “open office hours” for participants during multi-day trainings in order to give participants opportunities for 1:1 (or small group) assistance. These are useful for “parking lot” concerns that come up during a training that aren’t directly relevant to the entire group, and particularly for complex issues (e.g., malware removal). Depending on the training schedule, these can be held either during the second half of a long lunch period, after the main training day has ended, or during any “off” periods during the training.
Do you have a back-up plan if one of your main resources aren’t available or go out (like electricity, connectivity, etc.)? Also, ensure that plans are in place in case the training becomes unsafe in some way, especially if you are providing a training for high-risk participants or in a risky context. Make sure that everyone on the training team is clear on what the plan is, and what they are expected to do in case it must be enacted.
Daily pluses and deltas, as described above under #10. Trainers should meet briefly at the end of every day to go over participants’ plusses and deltas and tweak the event and agenda as need be (within reason), in order to continually improve the training as it continues. At the beginning of the subsequent day’s training with participants, trainers should take a short period of time to review the plus highlights, and then bring up any deltas that are broadly shared and address them.
Every digital security training event is unique, whether due to different participants, content, or needs; arriving with a standard, pre-set agenda each time does your participants a disservice. In the best-case scenario, this may leave some participants feeling disempowered or ‘spoken down’ to; tn the worst case scenario, you could teach people to use software which is illegal or dangerous to use in their context.
If your audience’s level is basic and their main concerns are still basic computer hygiene and information management, stay there with them. Don’t just jump into TrueCrypt if half your audience has devices that are badly infected with malware.
While it is understandable that, before the training, you may want to gather as much information as is possible from participants to aid your preparation, you should always be careful to check whether the information you may wish to gather would be considered sensitive by the participants and they would rather not share it over an insecure channel (i.e. unencrypted email).