CIS Working Group 4 - Training and e-Training

September 2005

Outlines for training various categories of potential users, how to organise seminars/training courses and meetings; some ideas for actual training courses that CIS Centres could offer

We look at

There are a number of steps that need to be followed to ensure a successful seminar/training course. The following should help in identifying target groups in different sectors and also creating suitable training sessions.

1. Target groups

Contacts could be made with:

Special information sector e.g. health and safety

Public Libraries

Academic/ Universities

Technical High Schools

Vocational Courses

2. Decide on the subject/topic of the training course

In the annual review of the provision of the information services a number of topics may be identified as possible topics for training sessions or open days. Examples could be to introduce a new piece of legislation, a new service or collection, or an open day highlighting the various services on offer to encourage usage of the information centre.

3. Decide on the date of the event and location

Book an available room where the meeting can take place. It is important to ensure that there is as little outside interference e.g. telephones, as possible.

Seating should be arranged in either cinema or conference layout to suit the size of the audience, the style of the speakers and the physical limitations of the room. Some trainers prefer to use the U shape layout for tables and chairs so that all the delegates can see each other.

Organise video machine, film projector, overhead projector and any other equipment which may be needed by the speakers.

4. Organise speakers

Ensure that they know their subject well and can give deliver publicly a talk to an audience. Brief them on what you require them to do/say/write, and if necessary meet them to discuss details. Keep in touch with the speakers, especially if the conference has been arranged for some time ahead of the event.

5. Organise the publicity

Announce the seminar at least two months in advance by sending letters (direct mailshot) to individuals, organisations, libraries/information centres, trade unions etc, stating the objectives, the subjects to be covered, the speakers, the overall duration and the price. If there are to be demonstrations of online sources, CD-ROMS, films, videos, DVDs or other opportunities for access to information sources then this should be mentioned.

Ensure also that there are adequate supplies of information packs and other handouts. Successful seminars will "self promote" themselves; and there may be requests for the same or similar programmes to be mounted in other locations.

Send out advert with details of course/seminar giving details of venue, date, time, speakers, description of course to all potential delegates, strict instructions for payment of any fees to the organiser and cut-off date for last application.

Once the publicity is on the way, the following steps need to be taken to ensure that the conference/training course is well planned.

6. Steps to take during the preparation for conference/training course

a) Delegates

Organisers may need to appoint a Course Director who will need details of where and when the course/conference is to be held, anyone else involved in the preparation, and list of delegates. The Course/Conference Director may be responsible for all the detailed work involved in the meeting.

Organisers will need to start to make a list of names of delegates, and send letters or emails back to them accepting the fee and confirming a place on the course or at the conference.

b) Organisation of handouts, etc

Have extra copies of handouts and programme run off for the course/conference and put on table at reception or handed out when delegates are seated.

Have list of names on "sticky labels" written out or have names printed off from the computer and inserted into plastic badge holders.

c) Training Room(s)

Beforehand discuss with speakers/tutors if they need any of the following:

Also organise:

d) Reception

Ensure that a list of names of delegates is sent to Receptionists at the venue, in advance, and include speakers on the list.

e) Refreshments

Order as appropriate and include speakers/tutors and any other person involved.

f) Keep in touch with speakers and chairmen if planning well ahead

g) Two weeks before event

h) One week before the event

Check everything is OK. Use above checklist.

i) On the day

j) Order of the day

k) Outline of the day:

The Chairperson/Course Director will introduce the Programme, stating:

l) After the event

7. Training by the use of videos and DVDs

There is no denying that a well made safety video or DVD can successfully inform, educate and sometimes shock an audience into positive action. Videos are also quick, convenient and cost-effective to use. But even the best safety videos cannot do the job alone. They need to be presented in the right environment, to the right amount of people and in the right way if the message is to be driven home properly.

The CIS Centre is conjunction with other specialists may wish to develop these modern teaching aids which could be used for promoting occupational health and safety at all levels in the education system. Each module of the teaching aids could contain information for the teachers, source information including leaflets, videos etc, CD-ROMS, ready-made PowerPoint presentations and where to contact for further information.

These module may also be useful for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

It may be useful to contact other CIS Centres who have experience in these areas.

a) Group size

The ideal group size for a video presentation is 10-15 people. Smaller groups may be difficult to motivate. Larger groups may be difficult to control.

b) Room and group setting

Group seating positions are important to ensure a clear, unobstructed view of the visual aids (monitor, screen, flipchart, blackboard etc.) and the trainer at all times. The ideal room layout is a 'U' shape. This will facilitate group participation and group/trainer interaction.

c) Group participation

People, in general, like sharing their experiences and it is important to use this to encourage group participation throughout. Following the video presentation, you may feel it beneficial to divide the audience into smaller 'discussion groups' of 3 or 4 people. If possible try to ensure that these groups contain a 'mix' of people - different gender, job types, experience etc. Different perspectives on the subject matter will often stimulate discussion and, again, encourage participation. Appoint a spokesperson for each group and change the spokesperson after each exercise.

d) Action Plans

The Message

Try to ensure that the overall main message is put across by the video, the trainer and any support material you may wish to produce is consistent. Mixed messages can lead to confusion and a 'diluted' effect.

Remember what your training session is about and make sure that the room itself is a model' of health and safety. For instance, there should be no exposed leads or trailing cables from audiovisual equipment. Cover them over or securely tape them to the floor.

e) Choose your own session plans

According to the size of audience or your own personal preference, you may wish to follow either of the following session plans.

Plan 1 - Interrupted Video Viewing

Plan 2 - Uninterrupted Video Viewing

8. Organizing meetings

From time to time you are likely to want to organize meetings, for example to allow you to contact your local contacts. How do you go about it? It's easy if you have a secretary or assistant (who will make all the arrangements), but what if you are a one-person operation?

What is a meeting?

Meetings consist of a few essential elements, and some optional ones. Your job is to get all of the necessary things to coincide, and if they do the result will be a successful meeting.

Essential items include the time and date, the place, the topic and the people. Who needs to be there? When and where will they meet? And what will they discuss? This sets the scene and makes the meeting possible. Optional elements include presentations, papers and external speakers. Doing without these will not stop the meeting going ahead or meeting its goal, but they can make it go more efficiently and effectively.

Who, where and when?: getting the meeting together

A meeting could consist of two people who agree to meet in a coffee bar at 10.30 on Monday morning to discuss induction for a new member of staff; but for a larger meeting things need to be more formal.

Many meetings will need a chairperson, or someone to lead the discussion more or less formally. They will need someone else to keep a record of what is said, and to ensure that the record is filed where everyone who needs to see it can find it. Bear in mind that in many organizations people now have a right to ask to see the record under Freedom of Information legislation, so the record should be comprehensive and an accurate summary of the discussion and decisions. You can probably see that for anything but the smallest informal meeting you need separate people to chair and to be secretary.

Who else needs to be there? The answer to this will dictate the time and date of the meeting and maybe the place to. If you work in an organization that has an office network that includes a calendar or scheduler software then things are easier, because you can find a slot in the timetables of the people you need, and invite them to attend. Who is essential and whom can you do without? It can be very difficult to get half a dozen busy people together, so would it be acceptable if only four of them can make it? Who is the most important? Is it essential that one person is there because they want to ask the meeting for a decision or have to explain what has happened in connection with a particular topic? Decide the pecking order, and if you cannot get every person there, make sure that the key people can take part. Some of the others will probably change their schedule so that they can be there!

What?: the agenda

The topic or topics to be discussed are listed on an agenda. A good chairman will keep the debate centred round the items there, whilst allowing debate of relevant topics that come up during the meeting. The agenda needs to be sensible in terms of the time available (so that you do not have to discuss next year's budget in four and a half minutes flat) by taking account of the importance of the topics and the likely length of the debate. Don't worry if this is not obvious the first time you are asked to set up a meeting - err on the side of caution, as a short agenda is better than a hopelessly long one that has people looking at their watches long before the end of the meeting. On future occasions you will be able to combine topics with some idea of how long debate will last, and of course if the same people are at each meeting they do not need to go back to the beginning of the debate on every occasion, but can build on their mutual understanding. Thus, in our budget example, the first meeting might allow 30 minutes for a discussion of the requirements, but in later meetings it could be enough to allow ten minutes for questions on a written report of current spending.

Ask participants to provide written papers for topics they introduce, especially where there is a complex idea to get across. This is particularly helpful where someone is asking for a decision involving money or staff, where it helps to have the details spelt out on paper. Spend time in advance resolving any difficulties or disagreements, and in clarifying anything that people do not understand. Your meeting should not turn into a training course as people try to understand ideas that they could have got to grips with the evening before if they had seen the papers earlier. Make sure that you mark as confidential any papers involving finance and especially those that deal with identifiable people; destroy any copies that are not for the record when the meeting is over.

Where?: the venue

The other essential element for a good meeting is place. Meeting rooms are nice but not always available. If you have a large committee to house, you will have to include the availability of a room along with the availability of people. Think creatively: boardrooms are not always occupied by the Board, head teachers' studies are not always occupied by head teachers, and libraries are not always open. Ask whether any of these are possible locations.

If you cannot get a meeting room in your organization, you could hire one outside. Again, be creative: a local restaurant or pub may have a room that you could use, and some will let you have it for a couple of hours in return for a guaranteed spend on refreshments (which do not of course have to be alcoholic). Ask colleagues what they do if there are no spare rooms, and ask whether anyone in your networks of information professionals knows of suitable local facilities. You will probably have to pay for the room (and use real money rather than charging it off to your internal budget) but you may find the meeting is more productive than being squeezed into a corner of the café in your organization's premises, so that there is a productivity gain that offsets the cost in the total balance sheet.

Don't let meetings run on too long. Have a finish time in mind, and aim to stick to it unless there are good reasons. If you are in the chair, you may want to set a rough timetable for yourself so that all the important business is dealt with. Try to bring discussion to a conclusion in good time so that everyone has a say and a decision is made. It is far more difficult to do this if people have had to leave to catch trains, or if everyone is looking at their watch every five minutes. Sometimes there are good reasons why a meeting has to go on past the proposed finish time, but the fact that some people like the sound of their own voice is not one of those reasons!

Optional extras: papers, presentations and external speakers

As we saw when we discussed the agenda above, having papers for a meeting helps people prepare in advance and makes the meeting more productive. It will not always be possible to distribute papers in advance, so allow people time to read any documents tabled on the day. Asking the author to make a presentation can be a useful idea in addition to asking them to talk the meeting through the paper. You may need to provide a computer and projector, just as we shall see below when we talk about larger meetings, as many people find it easier to use presentation software as a means of keeping the meeting's attention and of ordering their ideas.

Sometimes you will want to invite an external speaker, such as a representative of a company offering software or a library supply service that you are interested in. Let your speaker know how long he or she will be able to talk, whether there will be questions, and whether they are invited to the rest of the meeting (which could either inhibit discussion on other items, or be useful to help discussion of those same items, so you need to judge carefully!) Remember to allocate someone to escort our visitor to and from the meeting, as the chair and secretary are likely to be too busy with the actual meeting.

Larger meetings, open days and conferences

What about larger meetings, e.g. the CIS Centre open days? A lot of the same principles apply to these meetings too. You need the time, place and people, although the topic may be a bit more difficult to pin down if you are not running a formal conference. Nevertheless it's worth trying to define what you are doing, so that you can attract the visitors you want by telling them what the event is about and what they will gain from being there.

It will probably be more complicated to get the people you need together for an open day or a conference with presentations. If you do not have many terminals available, or you are arranging for your suppliers to bring their own equipment, then you will have to agree a timetable for the presentations. A conference will usually have one computer, attached to a digital projector, onto which all the presentations are loaded in advance. This is much simpler than having people bring along their own laptops and trying to get those to connect to the projector. You should ask speakers to send you a file on disc or by e-mail some days or weeks before the meeting - this will not only ensure that you can read the file, but it will make sure the work is finished in time! Try to avoid having speakers or presenters turning up on the day, so that you need a technician to load discs and virus check files in real time (which can often be three minutes before the speaker is due to start...) Ask for files in standard format (which is almost always Microsoft PowerPoint) and suggest that they should not be over-large, maybe a target size not above 1Mb.

Be prepared for people to ask whether they can take copies of interesting presentations on memory sticks: decide first of all how you will ensure that these are virus free if you are going to allow it. A good alternative method is to put the presentations onto your intranet. This allows other people in your community to read the files, and print them out if they wish, so that people who could not be at your event can see what went on. This approach also increases the traffic to your information centre's website and spreads the message about your services.

9. Publishing a report of your meeting

For major meetings you can consider publishing the proceedings or at least a summary report. This again will raise your profile in the organization, and nowadays can be done using print on paper or by using an electronic format such as Portable Document Format (PDF), which is the proprietary file format created by Adobe Acrobat and some other software. It has the advantage of being widely used, and that the software to read it is available free from the Internet or on the cover discs of many computer magazines. If your organization has a computer network it is very likely that PDF is a standard format and you already have software to read it: maybe there is software to create it too, either as a standalone program or embedded as an option for saving files in your word processor software.

If you go for print on paper you will have to do your calculations quite carefully to see whether it is viable to publish. Ask for quotations if this is appropriate (you may have to use your organization's print shop and pay their prices) and decide whether you can afford not to recoup the costs. Be honest about the number of copies to be printed and distributed. The set-up costs mean that printing a small number of copies of a publication costs more per copy than for a long run. On the other hand there is no point in printing 2,000 copies of a pamphlet to get cheaper costs per copy if you only expect to send out 200 of them. Is it worth printing just 200 or will you have to stick to electronic publishing?

Electronic publishing has the advantage that the print costs are carried by the reader, who also has the choice between colour and monochrome printing. If you prepare colour documents (which of course look far more professional and generally have greater impact) the print costs are higher than for black and white. In electronic format there is no difference in costs for colour, and you can use monochrome illustrations for impact rather than because they are cheaper. You may have access to electronic publishing software (such as Microsoft Publisher, Adobe PageMaker or Quark) which will give you advanced features, but for many purposes recent word processing software has surprising flexibility and will allow you to create professional looking results mixing text and illustrations in accurately laid out pages. As we advise in a number of cases, this is an occasion when you should decide what you want to achieve and seek advice from a specialist when you reach the limits of your own knowledge. Don't spend days creating a document that your print shop can't reproduce!

10. Plan ahead

For an open day or conference style of meeting, the important thing is to plan well ahead. You will be incredibly lucky to get all the people you need at one month's notice, and you may be fortunate to get them at three months. Especially if your participants are expected to prepare a presentation, aim to give as much notice as possible. Have one or two extra people on standby and tell them you will call on them if someone drops out. Ask them to prepare their talk anyway, and add it to your website. Give disappointed speakers first refusal for your next open day.

Organizing and running meetings can be hard work but can also be a lot of fun. For anything more than a routine meeting, it may be best to get a small committee together to share the work of contacting people, obtaining rooms, ordering refreshments, chairing, minuting, and otherwise organizing and recording the meeting.

11. What kind of OSH training courses?

Some Proposals for OSH Information Awareness Training Courses For Non Specialists

The following outline programmes are given for various categories of potential occupational safety and health (OSH) information users.

Each course should give opportunities for question and answer session.

The course contents could cover the following topics:

  1. Management responsibilities/Directives/legislation
  2. Risk assessment
  3. OSH information and how to access it
  4. Keeping up to date
  5. Demonstration of computerised systems
  6. Defining the OSH workplace problem
  7. Fact finding and establishing a methodology
  8. Finding information in a wide variety of sources - journals, reports, legislation etc

11.1 Who For: Managers

Duration: 45 - 60 minutes
Covers: A, B, C, D, E topics

11.2 Who For: Supervisors

Duration: 1- 2 hours
Covers: A, B, C, D, E topics

11.3 Who for: Safety Representative/Union member

Duration: 3-6 hours depends on needs of group
Covers: A, B, C, D, E, F, G topics

Feedback session: Each delegate states his/her problem and what they have found. This is then discussed in the group.

11.4 Who For: Occupational health doctors/nurses

Duration: 1 - 3 hours
Covers: A, B, C, D, E topics

11.5 Who For: Small businesses

Duration: 1- 3 hours
Covers: A, B, C, D, E topics

11.6 Who For: OSH Practitioner

Duration: 1/2 - 1 day depends if practical sessions are needed e.g. use of Internet , CD-ROMs
Covers: A, B, C, D, E, F, G topics

11.7 Who For: University students

Duration: any time from 1 hour to 1 day or more, depends on requirements
Covers: A, B, C, D, E, F, G topics

11.8 Who For: Head Teachers/Governors

Duration: 1 day, depends on requirements
Covers: A, B, C, D, E topics

11.9 Who For: Teachers, particularly those with responsibilities for workshops and domestic courses involving kitchens, and those working in laboratories

Duration: 1 day
Covers: A, B, C, D, E topics
These could include a Factory/Labour inspector giving a talk, then an occupational medical doctor. Various videos can also be shown.
The courses 8 and 9 can be run on one day, back to back, this means that everyone's time is cost effectively used.

11.10 Who For: Information specialists

Duration: anything from 1 hour to 5 days, to 10 days or longer e.g. 8 weeks
The whole range of available information from worldwide sources and systems. Can be for anyone new to OSH information but with an information qualification e.g. University Degree to someone newly starting without any qualifications.


Generally these training courses give a methodology that can be adapted by the user to suit their own situation/industry/location.

FIOH has training materials of COHF on web page:

11.11 Creating e-learning packages

Once we have sorted out the above we could move on to creating e-learning packages, but in my experience (Sheila speaking) these are expensive to produce. They take:

If there is a CIS Centre Member that has made some e-learning packages and would be willing to offer them to CIS Network that would be good - but of course these may be based on that country's own language, legislation and practices.

There is a lot to be considered when producing e-learning packages.

Perhaps this is a medium term goal for CIS HQ to produce/fund such packages?

12. Creating CIS PowerPoint presentations that can be used and adapted locally

To enable CIS to be better known it has been agreed for some years that CIS Centres need access to authoritative PowerPoint presentations that can be used in local training courses. The type of presentations would include ILO statistics and the type of presentation that we hear from Dr Jukka Takala and others. Have a look at these and see what we can have adapted to our needs. Some might be useful as they stand and could be translated locally and used by all CIS Centres. These PowerPoint presentations will need to be kept up-to-date and available on a CIS ftp web site for ready access.

Some examples are available at the Safework ftp file. For example, Jukka Takala's PowerPoint is too big for an e-mail annex, so he placed it on the Safework ftp site, downloading instructions below, filename is CISEurope 2005.ppt

Jukka's presentation can be downloaded from the ftp site:

This address can be placed on your web browser's address field (URL field)

username: cis
password: cisdoc

Go to SafeWork directory and the file name is: CISEurope2005.ppt

Drag and drop it to your own computer in a directory you prefer

Of course you can download anything else available there, and by Double clicking you can have a look what they contain before downloading.

This, however, may be slow depending on you connection speed. Uploading took a few seconds only here with a quick connection.

13. Participating in Conferences/Seminars/Exhibitions

As discussed in WG 1 Publicity, promotion and communication strategy one well-tried way of making individuals and organizations aware of the existence of the Centre is for the Head of the Centre to be available as a public speaker. The Head of the Centre may need to attend a course on public speaking, which will show how to prepare and deliver a talk, organize notes, produce a PowerPoint presentation, operate a projector as well as how to answer questions from the audience. Alternatively a number of films and videos are available on public speaking (although you learn a great deal by just doing it!) Many conferences are run in parallel with an exhibition. Every opportunity should be taken to use the opportunity that such exhibitions offer to advertise the Centre services. Even if the exhibition is run by a major conference organizer, there is often a joint stand for the use of smaller organizations where literature can be left and where the job of running the stand is shared between the exhibitors rather than you having to provide someone to spend the whole of the exhibition time there.

Public Speaking

You don't have to be a gifted orator in order to give an effective talk to either a small informal group, or a large public gathering. There is a difference between lecturing and public speaking, where you have to be able to hold an audience. The principal requirements are a sound knowledge of the subject, self-confidence and some practical experience of giving a talk. A number of texts exist on the subject, but here are our tips.

Speakers' appearance, voice, dress and mannerisms will be the focal point for the audience. Audiences react to appearance and their reactions can condition their minds to accept or reject the talk before the speaker even starts.

Tell your audience what subject(s) are to be covered, and what are the main points to be covered. Then cover all these points and conclude with a summary of main points. This all sounds very simple and mechanical, but it isn't. Remember that unless you say your key messages three times they are unlikely to be remembered.

Use visual aids correctly. Do not talk to the screen but talk to the audience!

Tell the audience that you will provide handouts after the talk but be careful if you give them out first. Unless it's important that the audience can write additional notes, be aware that they will spend their time reading the notes and not listening to you.

Decide if questions will be answered during or at the end of the talk, and tell the audience at the beginning of the talk.

Finally, if you are going to include a demonstration of a service, make sure that the person doing it is competent! Don't underestimate either your audience's intelligence or skills. One of us remembers an occasion when a demonstrator tried to bluff his way through a demonstration to a senior manager without knowing that she had previously been a computing consultant! The result was of course embarrassing for all concerned, but it detracted from the message that was being put across about the professionalism of the Centre.


We have looked at two important activities for CIS Centres: user training and organizing meetings. We have seen that both are straightforward and simple if you bear in mind what you are trying to achieve.

Also have looked at ideas for training, different kinds of users and potential users that could be encouraged to use the information services. We have also given ideas and step-by-step guidelines on how to organise successful seminars or training course.

We have offered hints from our own experience that we believe will give you confidence in making a market for your service, and may have others seeking your advice on how to carry out these activities with the same success as you enjoy!

6115 words
5 June 2005 - revised September 2005
CIS Guideline on Training-2005 Work Group/SP