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ATD Blog

Key to a Great Program


Mon Jan 25 2010


Happy 2010, ASTD chapter leaders! As the new year is upon us, many chapters have their entire 2010 program schedule laid out, while many others are still looking to fill remaining schedule gaps. A question we at national ASTD receive quite often is, "What makes a good program; what would you recommend?". While there's no stock answer that's correct for everyone, there is a theme that should always be followed - the "aha!" moment.

Everyone in the world of learning and development is familiar with this phrase, and use it often in their own training sessions. It should therefore be at the forefront of everyone's mind, and the driving force behind scheduling programs for your members. The "aha!" moment does not strictly need to be knowledge-based, for it can take on a number of different forms.


A networking event produces an "aha!" moment when someone makes an introduction and exchanges cards with an individual who turns out to be a valuable professional contact. An event featuring a State of the Industry report can produce this moment when someone sees national industry data and knows immediately how their company is mirroring or diverging from overall trends. The moment is also prevalent during an E-Learning or Social Media event, where that one key takeaway, whatever that may be, can be put to use immediately.

No one will remember the entire content of a program unless it's an archived podcast, but they will remember their one takeaway. That impactful moment will have them buzzing about your event to their colleagues, and will keep their interest level high for your next event. It will also help them professionally, and give them real value for their membership. The next time you discuss what type of program to have with your board, think of the "aha!" moment it will produce, and if it's enough to impress you, it will be enough to impress your members as well.

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