User Training for Busy Programmers: Develop effective software training classes quickly and easily

4. Develop Lectures

At this point, you are ready to start writing the lecture and demonstration that precedes each exercise. We assume that you will deliver the lecture and demo with the aid of an overhead projector, and that you will use some type of electronic slide show.

The temptation is to start at the beginning and develop an introductory lecture for the course. However, we are going to take a lot more structured, formulaic approach for developing the lectures.

Develop Lectures Around the Exercises

Remember that the exercises are central to the course. Each exercise teaches a procedure, or task. So we’ll start with the first exercise, and develop the lecture to complement that exercise. After the lecture, we’ll develop a demo. For each chapter or unit, you will first deliver the lecture and then the demonstration in the class. Your students will then complete the exercise.

A Structured Approach to Developing Lectures

For each unit develop an electronic slide show to support your lecture. You can use whatever slide-show software works best for you.

For this example, we will start with the first unit in our course, “Creating a New Customer”. We have already developed an exercise for this task.

Launch your slide-show software and create a new slide show. Using the list below as a guide, create new slides.

This list is just a guide. If any slide’s topic is inappropriate for your subject, you can delete it. If you need several slides to cover the same topic, then do add them.

List of Suggested Slides

The following list gives you the title of each slide followed by a brief description of the information that should appear on the slide. Use this as a guide for creating your slide.

Unit Title

This is the title slide for the unit. Name the unit after the business task being taught. For example, “Creating New Customers” or “Entering Initial Claim Information“.

If the title is not self-explanatory, you can add one or two lines of description.


State the business purpose of the procedure. This may be obvious from the title of the unit, but you should still include it for every unit to be consistent. To avoid repeating the unit title, try to state the purpose of the unit without using any of the terms from the title slide. In our example, you might say something like the following:

“To accurately enter a new customer’s information into the system, and save that information for later use.”


“To accurately enter all information needed to begin the processing of a new claim.”

When is This Procedure Performed?

State the conditions or situation that triggers this procedure. For example, “You enter new customer information upon receiving a completed and approved Form NC1 from Sales” or “You enter new claim information upon being connected to a claimant by the New Claims department”.

Who Performs this Procedure?

Your class may comprise people with differing job functions. Unless you know that everyone in the class has identical duties, you should include this slide. For example, you might state, “New customer information is entered only by Level 1 Customer Service Representatives”.

What Information is Entered During this Procedure?

During every procedure, the users must enter some information. Even if the users are only looking up information, they must still enter a search condition. List the information that the users must enter during this procedure. The users can check this list before starting the procedure to ensure that all the information needed to complete the procedure successfully is available.

What Processing does the System Perform on the Data Entered During this Procedure?

What happens to the data that the users enter? Is it just saved to a database? Is it used to calculate other values? Does it populate specific reports? When users understand how the data they enter is used by the system, they become more confident with the system. They are also better able to recognize the results of bad data, and to troubleshoot problems. In our example, you might state how the customer information is used later in the system: to contact the customer, bill the customer, determine payouts in case of an accident, and so on.

What is the Result of this Procedure?

State the end result of this procedure. Phrase the result in business terms, not technical terms. For example, instead of writing “A new record is added to the database”, write, “A new customer is added to the system”.

Special Fields

Identify any special fields in the data entry screen(s) for this procedure. Special fields include:

  • Required fields: The process cannot be completed without entering data into these fields.
  • Not-obvious fields: Any field whose purpose is not obvious from the field’s name or position on screen. For example, does the field labeled Type refer to the customer type or type of insurance purchased?
  • Non-standard fields: Any field that functions in a non-standard way. If the field behaves in a way that is different from the standards for user interfaces on the platform you are using, state how it functions.


This slide introduces the demonstration that you will perform. You may want to add a short description like this to this slide:

“Demonstration: Entering the initial claim for an auto accident involving two drivers”

After showing this slide, perform the demo. Then, return to the slide show again.


This slide introduces the exercise that the students perform in the class. You may want to include the following:

  • The name of the exercise
  • The page number in the Student Workbook
  • The estimated time to complete the exercise

After showing this slide, assign the in-class exercise to the students. When they’ve finished the exercise, return to the slide show.


This slide reminds the students what they learned in this unit. After the students complete the exercise, this slide brings them back to the discussion. Do not try to restate all of the information you delivered on this one slide. It is a reminder, not a restatement.


This slide is just a reminder to pause and ask the class if they have any questions before moving on to the next unit.


At this point, you have developed:

  • An audience analysis that tells you who needs to be trained
  • The learning objectives, which consist mostly of tasks the students must learn
  • One or more measurable criteria for success for each learning objective
  • A business scenario that will give your clients a realistic experience in the classroom
  • A short description of an exercise for each learning objective that will teach that objective
  • The application’s starting point for the class
  • For each in-class exercise, step-by-step directions


For each unit in the course, develop a slide show. Use the list of slides above as a guideline.


In this chapter we developed lectures to introduce each exercise. We learned to use a standard lecture plan to give each lecture a proven structure that can be applied quickly to any exercise. The lecture leaves space for a demonstration to take place part way through.

About the Author

William Rice develops software-training courses, user documentation, and knowledge management solutions. He lives and works in New York City. During his 15-year career he has worked with a variety of Fortune 500 clients. He specializes in training and knowledge solutions for software that supports business processes. This is his first book for Packt Publishing. He can be reached via his website at

Where to buy this book

*** Reprinted with permission ***

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