People ask us all the time about our training bag.
“Where did you get it?”
“What do you carry in it?”
“Where can I get one?”
If you are a trainer, you know how important it is to have the right tool at the right moment. It’s the tool that will make the facilitation moment exponentially better and blow the experience out of the water!
Since we get that question all the time we thought we’d share the contents of our training bag with all of you. This is a peek behind the curtain of how we do what we do and we’re excited to share it with you.
So, without further delay, here are our top must-have training bag tools!
1. Awesome Markers
A trainer is always on the hunt for a good marker.
Many would say “a marker is a marker.” But a trainer will passionately debate that a good quality marker makes a huge difference.
So, what puts a marker in our must-have category?
First, we like a marker that doesn’t smear. We shouldn’t see copies of words or messages on our arms and hands. (Lefties can especially relate!)
Second, if a marker has one tip with a dual function, then that is even better. Our preferred Charter Markers from Grove (www.grovetools-inc.com) can produce either bold or fine lines just by adjusting the angle of the pen. No longer do you need to switch between two different markers. Genius, right?
Also, make sure to choose a marker that doesn’t bleed through your paper. There’s nothing worse than taking your flip chart off the wall and seeing permanent marker stains on the painted wall behind it. Big Oops!
Here’s a quick video that shares some of the benefits of the Charter Marker and why we love it so much.
If your session involves participants brainstorming, or you need their writing to be visible to others, make sure to have black Sharpies. Most of the time the fine tip is perfect to have written ideas be legible from afar.
2. RYG (Red-Yellow-Green) Cards
RYG cards are sets of 3 laminated cards, each in a different color: red, yellow and green.
We keep about 20 sets of RYG cards in our training bags. They are great to get a quick “temperature check” from the participants. Perfect for when you’re polling the room with a vote, to measure understanding or gauging agreements or disagreements.
How to use RYG cards
Here is one of our favorite methods for using RYG cards in our sessions:
- At the beginning of class, give out a deck of 3 cards to each person in the room.
- Explain the meaning of the color of each card to the group.
- Green means “I agree. Let’s do it. I understand. You got my vote.”
- Yellow means “I have some concerns. I’m on the fence about the decision. I have some questions.”
- Red means “I disagree. I don’t understand. My vote is no. We shouldn’t do it.”
- Say, “I’m going to ask you a question and then on the count of 3 flash the color card that reflects your response.” Within 3 seconds, you will have a room full of raised color cards.
- Look around the room, and notice how many of each color you have.
- Thank everyone for their honest response. Reinforce that honest responses lead to progress and forward-moving conversations.
- For any red or yellow cards, ask those individuals what their concerns or questions are. Treat each response as valuable feedback and insight.
A wide variety of color cards means more dialogue is needed to gain group alignment. When the group comes to another decision-making moment, ask again for feedback with the RYG cards.
You will find that your group will start using the RYG cards all on their own, and even call for their own votes.
3. Gadgets, devices, & connectors
Imagine this: You arrive at your training room and begin setting up your equipment only to discover that you forgot your adapter to connect your apple laptop to the LCD projector.
Or your HDMI or VGA connector cord is missing!
Or your laptop battery is nearly dead and you don’t have your power adapter!
Any one of these is a trainer nightmare!
Don’t let his happen to you as a trainer! Today’s trainer is techi-er than ever, and we rely on our gadgets to get the job done. Whenever possible, make sure you have two of everything, and always keep one set in your training bag.
Here’s a quick list of the tech gear you will want to have handy as a backup:
- Power Cords for …
- Cell Phone
- LCD Projector
- Adaptors for …
- Laptop video output
- Network connections (in case there is no wifi)
- LCD Projector
- Spare backup Equipment …
- External speakers
- Remote Control
- Network cable
- Extension cord for hard to reach power outlets
- LCD projector (in case theirs doesn’t work)
- Microphones and sound system (if you tote your own)
- iPad or device for music
- Batteries for …
- Remote Control
4. Efficient Training Bag
An excellent training bag can simplify a trainer’s life! After 17 years of hunting for the perfect combination of training bags we’re happy to share our findings.
There are a few things to consider when seeking out the perfect bag:
Is the bag carry-on friendly for flying on airplanes? You will want to hand-carry your most important training items to avoid it becoming a part of any lost luggage sagas.
Does your bag have wheels for those bulkier training items? Ideally, this wheeled tote can easily roll down the aisle of an airplane.
Does the bag have enough pockets to organize your essentials? Assign your pockets to specific items. g. Electronic connectors should always go in their specific pocket. Markers in a specific pocket. Everything should have a dedicated home so that you can quickly find and grab your training tools when you need them.
How heavy is your bag? Your training bag will become heavier with each item you add in so you want to start with a bag that is strong but light.
Besides those considerations, we’ve found that the best configuration is actually to have two bags.
- One is smaller and serves as a tote/briefcase to be slipped onto a telescoping handle of the larger, wheeled bag.
- The wheeled bag holds the heavier and bulkier items, and the smaller bag holds the quick-to-grab items that you need immediate access to.
So, after all that, here are the two bags that we’ve found are perfect for our purposes as trainers. They go hand-in-hand when needed and can be toted as one rolling unit.
Another tip is to label baggies to store smaller items.
We love the Thirty-one bags zipper pouches for this and even have them embroidered!
5. Things that Stick
For quick ideas and brainstorming we couldn’t do our job without these helpful, sticky essentials. Here are the two we use everytime, without fail:
A trainer can not live with out post-its! We joke that we should buy stock in 3M because we use so many of their products.
We carry 2 sizes of post-its:
3″ x 3″ Square
The 3” x 3” square is essential for brainstorming and you will want to have a lot of 3x3s if you tend to brainstorm the way we do it…..one idea per post-it.
The second size is the 5″ x 8″ post-its: These come in handy to create headers to identify groupings and categories when organizing all the great ideas from brainstorming.
Which color post-its are better? It depends on you but we like the energy that the bright fluorescent post-its bring to a session! The brighter the better!
Sticky dots in multiple colors are super handy. You can get really creative here. Use dots for voting. You can even assign importance of a vote by the color of the dots.
For example, a red dot may signal your first choice, yellow dot your second, and blue your third choice.
Tape is one utility items that is one of those things you might not think to bring, but you’re always glad you did. We carry 3 types of tape, each for a different purpose:
This is a must to anchor down post-its if they don’t stick as well. Plus, who doesn’t love Scotch tape? It’s the office version of duct tape. 🙂
Blue Painter’s Tape
Sometimes you will need to post up a training visual or non-sticky flipchart paper up on the wall. The blue painter’s tape will ensure that you do it without taking off any paint off the wall
White artist’s tape
Ever make a spelling error on a flip-chart or you need to change some text on your visual? White artist tape is like white-out for facilitators. Cover your error with artist tape and simply write over your error. Your audience will think you are so clever.
Noisemakers are a great way to bring a training group back into session without having to yell above the chatter of the crowd.
We’ve seen triangles ringing, cow bells clanging , and chimes echoing. Personally, we are fans of the sweet sounds of a good chime, especially the Zenergy Chime Trio. What better way to bring a class back into focus than with uplifting musical notes?
8. Water bottle
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
We can not stress how important this is!
Facilitators are constantly moving around in the room, and sometimes you may be so focused on the conversations and dynamics in the room that you forget to drink water. You must drink throughout your sessions, especially if the day is hot and humid.
Facilitators can easily become dehydrated, especially if your training involves flight travel. The high altitudes add to dehydration.
The symptoms of dehydration are that you feel thirsty even after drinking water or upon waking up in the morning, nagging headache that won’t quit, nausea, stomach pains, and tiredness. If you are feeling these symptoms, the chances are that you are already dehydrated.
So, drink twice the amount of water than you usually do on days that you are training so that you don’t enter the dreaded dehydration zone.
Keeping snacks handy go right in line with staying hydrated.
As a trainer, you need to be at your best and feel good in order to bring spunk into your facilitation and create an upbeat engaging learning environment. If you have a sensitive stomach, then you will definitely want to bring your own snacks to hold you through the day.
10. Flip-chart paper
We always have a pad of post-it flip-chart paper in the room. It’s a great tool for group work, charting ideas, and to provide a visual.
We recommend having it be a post-it flip-chart so that there is no need for tape!
Note: Not all flip-charts with sticky backs are made the same. Our favorite that never fails us is the Post-It brand.
11. Favorite DiSC Tools
And if you are a DiSC facilitator, you will never want to be without your DiSC gear.
- QuikDiSC cards for a quick game of assessing DiSC styles
- Everything DiSC Interaction Guides: A quick resource for DiSC strategies
- The Everything DiSC Style Guides: A tool to communicate to people your top 3 wishes when working with you.
- Everything DiSC Needs Badges: Fun magnetic badges to communicate your needs.
What’s in your training bag?
But we’re curious: what is in your training or facilitation bag? What are the tools you never enter a training room without? Let us know what you find to be the ultimate essentials for your training bag by posting a comment below.