Implementing Prework into Your Leadership Training

Prework could end up helping your leadership training become more effective. Read Linda Berke’s tips on how to create prework today!

Published on 18 March, 2020 | Last modified on 3 May, 2023
Virtual Leadership Training

Prework increases the effectiveness of leadership training. When used properly, it could end up being the difference in helping a learner understand the core concepts of your training.

When training future managers and leaders, it is important for you to keep your learners prepared for activities and discussions that take place in your workshop. Prework provides them with this exact preparation.

In our latest webinar, Linda Berke of Taylor Performance Solutions joined us to discuss the importance of this preparation and how it can be implemented into leadership training:

When and why to use prework

Linda started by sharing how you should use prework when:

  1. You want to generate excitement about your upcoming workshop
  2. You feel your learners will benefit from reviewing content before the workshop
  3. You time out your agenda and there is not enough practice time during the workshop
  4. You want to assess the skill level of the learners ahead of time
  5. You want to increase retention
  6. You need input from the learners ahead of time to custom design skill practice activities
  7. You want to prepare learners for different activities they will be completing in the workshop

When looking at prework specifically for leadership training, leaders are the busiest group to work with. It is necessary for keeping their attention in the workshop and to get them thinking about how they can improve their leadership.

Effective Design

When designing prework, Linda suggests you decide the overall goal by asking questions like:

  • What are the specific objectives?
  • What specifically do you want your learners to know?
  • How will it be applied during the workshop?

Once you’ve asked these questions, you can develop prework that is fun, interesting, and manageable in length, content, and work required. Remember that you must consider the learner’s schedule, so be clear on how much time is required so learners can put aside the necessary time to complete it.


Some of the most effective prework Linda has used includes:

  1. Pre-reading on key topics
  2. Leadership skills assessment
  3. Leadership style assessment
  4. Case study, worksheet, or quiz
  5. Micro-eLearning modules
  6. Online survey
  7. Virtual meet-and-greet

Although you can use more than one of these options, the most effective option for you will depend on who your learners are. Here is an example from Linda:

If you are training a group of future managers, then provide them a worksheet on performance gap conversations. Since performance gap conversations happen when managers talk to employees about not meeting expectations, your worksheet can include tips on how to handle this type of conversation. This will prepare your learners for your workshop and get them ready to discuss how to handle performance gap conversations as a manager.

Overall, think about the goal you have for your training and how you are adding prework to help reach that goal.

Getting your learners to complete prework

Perhaps the biggest challenge of prework is getting your learners to complete it. To overcome this, prepare your learners by clearly stating its value and importance to the workshop.

If you’re sending a workshop agenda to your class in advance, Linda shares this piece of advice: include the prework on your agenda so there are no surprises. Refer to it during your workshop as well to make sure everyone can easily access or print it if needed.

After Linda opened up this topic for discussion, attendees chimed in with these additional strategies:

  1. Check with learners prior to workshop
  2. Have learners complete prework during break or at lunch
  3. Set expectation to share response in a group
  4. Make it clear prework is part of training
  5. At registration, ask if they’ve completed the prework
  6. Review prework at beginning of session
  7. Send email reminders
  8. Make prework interactive and part of sign-up process

The point here is to encourage learners to complete the work even if they’ve failed to do so before your workshop. Giving learners this chance will allow them to keep up with the rest of the group, while you won’t have to worry about whether or not your learners are all on the same page.

Measuring effectiveness

To gauge effectiveness, Linda recommends asking yourself the following after your workshop is complete:

  • What percentage of learners completed the prework? 
  • If you provided an assessment, how do their scores compare from before to after the workshop?
  • Did the prework support a time-saving effort?
  • Were learners prepared when they arrived?
  • Were learners able to move quickly through the content?

After answering these questions, decide how it can be altered to help improve your learners’ knowledge on the subject of your workshop. Send out a survey to your learners as well to see how they felt about your prework and whether or not they were satisfied with your training.

There are many reasons to use prework, but the biggest reason is to help you reach your training goals. When planning your next leadership training workshop, be sure to keep these tips in mind.

Want to learn more? Watch Linda Berke’s full webinar with Mimeo now!

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