Whether you’re inventing, innovating, or organizing a training program for your volunteers, having clear lines of communication will always be your best practice.
In essence, you’re training your volunteers to be community ambassadors. The more prepared you are for them, the more prepared they’ll be for the field.
As you consider how to do these things, think of different learning styles and abilities. Be prepared to cover the same material in audio and visual ways.
Start by asking these questions:
- What is the break-down of roles and how do they interact?
- What kind of personalities fit each role?
- What will they need to communicate?
The next set of questions to ask are:
- What is the amount of time you will have to train each volunteer?
- How complex is their role?
If given a short amount of time, the best thing that can be done is to have some sort of training video and a practice run before being thrown into the ring. Repetition is advantageous. The more your volunteers are able to practice, or imagine themselves in the role they will be managing, the better. Videos are not as efficient as hands-on experience, but are highly economical in their ability to suit all learning types.
Also crucial is making sure that lines of communication are clear to volunteers and that they have a reference for questions that may be fielded to them. Make a contact sheet that everyone can share with important contacts. Include maps and event schedules. It is up to you when you distribute all necessary information, but present the information in a digestible way. Be mindful of information overload.
Always leave room for error, expect the worst, and hope for the best. Find ways for your volunteers to put their best foot forward and they will.