‘There’s more than way to skin a cat’, is the old adage.  The same applies to how to train.  Just because that’s the way it’s always been done it doesn’t mean it can’t be done a better way.

Traditional learning is primarily centred around a core set of topics that we need our learners to know. In this case let’s use an induction programme.  We have employed a group of new staff and we now have to teach them enough about the organisation so that they can undertake their new job confidently.  Traditionally we would have a learning plan that sets out the lesson plans in silos, i.e. one week on products, one week on IT, one week on blah, blah and so it goes on.  Then we proceed to walk them through these silos and when we are done we let them go and expect them to fly!

There is a better way

When you look through the learning or think back to similar learning you have been through odds are that it launches straight into the topic.  In previous blogs I have talked about ‘hooking’ whereby we give the learners a starting point which is usually their own experiences and or knowledge on the topic, then we build or ‘hook’ our learning on those existing experiences to make it more relative for them.

Here is another way to present your material and actually give the learners the hook instead of expecting them to have their own.  The term is called ‘funnelling’  this is quite simple in theory but will take some practice to get comfortable applying it to your material.

How funnelling works

Simply put this technique starts off with the big picture and then gradually works down to the finer detail.  Told you it sounded easy!  Now here is the hard bit – what is the big picture and how does that fit into context for the learner?  What section comes next that naturally links to the previous to add to the information they have?  I have found that to really make this successful it helps pulling apart (quite literally) your content and spreading it out or sticking it to a wall / whiteboard and reviewing the flow of the content and the logic behind it.

The term of funnelling has been used for years in a sales capacity; as we move our prospects through the sales process or funnel we get closer and closer to an agreement as we get down to the detail.  Training is no different – we move through a process and gradually get more and more detailed as we do.

Induction Plans

So if you have to run an induction programme then ideally what you want is to design your entire course on this funnel method.  This means that the first few days you are simply going through the big picture details of all your topics and then on the next round you are going into more detail and then again and again until the learners have the confidence to do it themselves.

So if you have a number of topics first of all look for the starting point and ask yourself ‘with no previous knowledge of this topic would this make sense?’ then design your next pass with the logical next step or flow of information.

For example :

You have to cover a topic on your product line of widgets.  Normally we would launch straight into what widgets we have and how many, how they work, colours, prices etc, etc.  Now think about how to present the topic using this method.  It might start off with something along the lines of, “Who has heard of or even used widgets?”  Get the group to call out and discuss these concepts.

Now that you have discovered the level of understanding in the room, move to your topic of widgets.  “We have widgets, this is why we have them and how they fit into our business and our customers needs.”   Knowing what your group previously knew about widgets link your next level to their knowledge.  Continue in this fashion as you go deeper and deeper into detail.  This now fits with a previous topic on relational learning.


  • Look at your lesson plans and see where you are diving straight into detail.
  • Pull your topics apart and see how you can slice and dice them to produce the funnel effect.
  • Ensure there are links as you funnel down from big picture to detail.
  • Ensure you are not training in silos but following the funnel concept across multiple topics.

For more information on assistance with your induction programmes visit www.rapid-results.com or call us on 0800 338356.