How To Make An Effective Outline For Your Online Training Program

Are you thinking about how to make your own awesome online training program?

A training program based on the fantastic high-quality value you provide. A program that will help people learn how to get the desired outcome for themselves? Help them discover valuable insights as part of your portfolio and services? 

If you are looking for inspiration about how to put an effective online training program together. Please read on.

This article will give you one major thing to consider as you start putting your online training program together. And then, I will provide you with 3 steps that will help you get started with confidence as you create the outline for your online training program.

The insights I’m about to share with you are based on more than 20 years of experience in education and consulting teaching professionals in creating effective outlines for training programs. 

First, let me illustrate this one chief ingredient in any successful training program through an example from my own experience and development as a teaching professional. 

From Island jumping to Instructional design that works

In the beginning of my journey as a teaching professional, I planned my lessons as small islands of content. And I have seen many training programs over the years making the same mistake. 

The thinking behind this type of lesson planning is understandable. As teaching professionals, we are experts in our content. We know the essential subjects that need to be covered for the student or the client to succeed. 

Let me illustrate the challenge with this content-directed approach by sharing a short story from my own early experience as a teacher.

As a new teacher, I was carefully planning the outline for my training programs. I was teaching my students how to analyze literature. I was doing this by modeling the analysis of different pieces of literature throughout ten lessons. My thinking was that each class eventually would provide the students with the insight they needed to show their excellent skills in analyzing literature at their final exams. 

The final exams came for my very first group of students. “This is the moment of truth.” I thought to myself. I was very excited. I went over all the essential methods and approaches I had taught the students to apply when analyzing literature.

The first couple of students did well. They had caught on to what it was I was trying to convey. I felt my confidence grow as their teacher. I was nodding my head to the external examiner feeling very proud of the students. But then something happened that completely changed my outlook. 

The following student didn’t do very well at all. And the next one was even worse. I was getting more and more astonished. I said to the external examiner: “I just don’t understand. I have made a big deal out of this subject. I had been explaining to them what to look for and what terms to use when analyzing. I have told them all about this very thing so many times. And yet it is like these students did not hear a word of what I have been telling them.”

The truth was that I had been lecturing 

Right then, I realized that I had been lecturing. I had been doing most of the talking. I had learned a lot about analyzing literature in putting the training program together. I knew what the students needed to know to succeed. And I thought I had given it to them. A small group of motivated students had been attentive. They had listened and internalized these essential points. But the larger group had their focus elsewhere. 

And then it dawned on me. 

I must be much more explicit about the desired outcome for each lesson and the entire training program. 

Instructional design that works

This first stumbling experience was the beginning of a complete change in my instructional design in all my training programs over the years. Creating clear, effective outlines have helped thousands of students improve their learning outcomes significantly. 

I have published several books about how to make effective training outlines. I have been consulting leaders and given many seminars to teaching professionals about making an instructional design that improves the learning outcome for the students. 

The key ingredient is ”reverse engineering” of the training program

And the one major thing that makes the difference in the effectiveness of your training program is when you design the training program backward. 

“Reverse engineering” of the teaching program means that you start planning the outline of your online training program with the end goal in mind. 

The first step in an effective outline for your training program is to ask yourself what the main goal is for the client. What will they be able to do that they weren’t able to before participating in your program?

By examining the desired outcome thoroughly, you will know exactly what success will look like for your client after completing your program. And then you walk back from there. Knowing what the client will be able to do at the end of your training program, you can look at the steps that each lesson will need to provide for the client to reach the end goal. 

3 steps to start the ”reverse engineering” of the program outline

1.     What is the overall end goal of your online training program? The intended learning outcome? 

✍ Write notes on what your clients will do or accomplish after completing your training program. 

2.     What are the crucial skills your clients will need to master to reach the overall end goal? 

✍ Write notes on what essential knowledge and skills your clients need to gain to reach the end goal of the training program.

3.     What exercises do the clients need to do step by step in each lesson to acquire the knowledge and skills to reach the overall end goal?

✍  Write about what steps, elements, exercises your clients need to go through in each lesson to get them to step by step achieve the intended learning outcome. 

If you create the outline of your online training program with the end goal in mind, the intended learning outcome will be crystal clear to you and your clients. You will be able to market the benefits of your training program to your prospects.

When you design your program outline based on reverse engineering, using the end goal as your starting point. Then you will know what knowledge and skills you need to build through the training program for the clients to reach the end goal after completing the program. 

Each more minor step you identify as necessary to eventually reach the end goal will then be the theme for one lesson at a time throughout the training program. 

I hope you will reap the benefits of applying this step-by-step approach in creating your online training program. Please feel free to reach out with questions or if you need help with the reverse engineering of your online training program.


About Sophie H Higgins, MA, MBA, MBC: I’m a freelance copywriter, professional speaker, business coach, and martial artist. I specialize in providing high-quality content and in helping businesses create their online training programs. Need a copywriting magician? 🧙♀️ As a certified copywriter and business coach, I can help your business increase sales and boost your client flow.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s