Last Updated on October 28, 2022 by Lorna Barrow


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When my participants, especially your employees, engage in training…I mean fully engage, I am over the moon!


Not only because I love training, but also because I know when participants engage in training, they learn more, remember more and implement more.


This is important to me because at Impact Training and Development Services, we strive very hard to live up to our training promise: what you learn in our training room shows up in your workplace.


This should be the goal of all trainers and facilitators because without participants who are willing to engage in training, the entire training process is meaningless.


The big and constant question then, for all trainers and facilitators should be “How do I encourage participants to engage, I mean really engage, in training?


On the other hand, your big and constant training question as a small business owner should be “Will this facilitator engage my team in training so that I get the best for my training dollar?


As a facilitator as well as a business owner, I am in a position to see both sides of this “training coin”.


As a result, I have discovered and I have also developed, some approaches which work great to get participants to engage in training. I believe they will satisfy any discerning client’s need to get value for money when buying training. 


I am sharing 11 of these approaches with you now. 


1.  Remind the participants that they are adults

You may think this is crazy. But many people who come to training, come with strong memories of classroom training from their college or high school days.


When you remind them that they are adults and must take responsibility for their learning, this really changes the dynamics of their engagement.


There’s another reason for reminding them that they are adults. It allows me to actually treat them as adults, who have  some knowledge and experience of the topics, which I can get them to share.


2.  “Host” the training activity so people engage in training

Yeah…I do mean that!


For me, delivering training like I’m hosting a party and the participants are my specially invited “guests” is the bomb.


I open up my “Training Lounge” and welcome them warmly. I connect with them quickly and easily and help them to connect just as easily with the other “guests”.


Creating the picture in their minds of me as their host, instead of their trainer or facilitator, reduces the learning stress and makes them ready to engage in the training.


3.  Ask the participants to list 3 things they would like to get out of the training

Do this right at the start and ask them not to share them.


But ask them to engage in the training in such a way as to ensure that they get what they want from the training.


This has the effect of significantly improving the way they really respond to the training.


4.  Give them the skinny on why they should engage in training

Many employees come to training resisting the process even before they engage in it.


In my experience the reasons for this are many and varied. But without getting into the reasons, I give them the skinny on why they should engage in the training.


I point out that when you leave your current job, your employer can take back their vehicle, their uniform or any other benefits you may have. What they cannot take back is anything you learn in training.


So I encourage them to engage fully, learn as much as they can and practice it back on the job.


After this, I have the absolute pleasure of watching them participate fully and actively in any activity. In this way, I know that I have turned them into partners in their own self-development. 


5.  Plan and prepare but be prepared to throw out the plan

As a facilitator, just like all other facilitators, I carefully plan my training programme, session by session. But however well you plan, at least once, you will end up in a place where what you plan is not resonating with the participants.


What do you do?


You throw out your carefully, well thought-out plans. Then you create some on the fly, driven by the feedback from the participants and dipping into your vast reservoirs of knowledge and experience.


You will find that this is sure to increase the engagement of participants.


6.  Bring high energy levels and lots of enthusiasm

The first time I conducted a survey on my training delivery, I was so sure that I knew the answer to “what do you like most about my training delivery?” After all, I spent most of my time on content.


Boy, was I wrong!


#1 was “your energy and enthusiasm!”. #2 was “the way you interact with us (participants)” and #3 was “your willingness to call it as you see it!”.  Oh, by the way, “Your great content!” was #5.


My enthusiasm comes from my love of training and love of people. My energy comes from my “joie de vivre”, hiking and a workout specifically designed to support my lifestyle.


Add high energy and loads of enthusiasm to your trunk of delivery items and your participants will really engage in training facilitated by you.


7.  Learn the skill of story-telling and use it to deliver your content

 As delivering training goes, I can’t stress the power of  story-telling enough.


You must enhance your delivery with interesting, relatable stories. Connect stories and make your overall content tell a story which will have a happy ending for your participants.


Make your stories relevant to the many roles of your participants and don’t be afraid to be funny. Select examples and analogies that your trainees can relate to. Choose them from their work situation and life circumstances. 


Learn some of the many story-telling techniques and develop some of your own. Nothing…like nothing, engages your participants like stories.


8.  Go deep on at least one topic to engage participants in training

Is your client one of those small business employers who like to see a packed programme when they pay for training?


Unfortunately, many of them are. They really believe that this means value for money.


But just touching on many topics in a short time often leaves the trainees more confused when they leave the training,  than when they came.


Participants will seriously take part in training when you allow them to choose which of the topics they would like you, the facilitator, to go deeper on.


The engagement skyrockets because you have placed them in some control of their learning and you build trust by demonstrating your competence.


9.  Encourage participants to engage with you

Trainees will not automatically engage with you and “your” training, especially in this age of cell phones and other distractions. You have to encourage them.


One of the ways I do this, is by limiting the number of handouts, and designing them carefully.


In addition, I encourage them to take their own notes. Not only from what I present, but also from what other participants share as well. I advise them to include their feelings and how they intend to use the new information. 


10.  Get creative with group feedback methods

Do you know the most popular way facilitators use to get feedback from group work? Yep! That one.


But you don’t have to be stuck with having the “reporter” report back on behalf of his or her group.


For example, you can try asking groups to report back by performing a short skit or by explaining a picture which they have drawn.


You can also  get them to organise a radio call-in programme, a press conference or anything else you come up with.


Be creative.


11. Learn to make meaningful PowerPoint slides

One of the biggest turn-offs for training participants are poorly designed PowerPoint slides. Don’t believe me? Ask them. Or watch their reaction as you put up text-slide-after-boring-text-slide.


Well-designed slides capture the attention of your participants and increase the way they enjoy and engage in training. Period. Learn to make them or pay to have them made.  


Your next “engage in training” step…

Facilitating training is one of the most rewarding activities both for the trainers and the clients.


For the trainers it is satisfying to know that you have delivered on the training objectives. On the other hand, the clients,  get value for their money and they anticipate changes in they workplaces.


So the next steps…they are very simple really.


The trainers should review these 11 approaches and embrace any that they do not already have in their “training trunk”.


The clients should regard them as a checklist which they could discuss early in the negotiation. Let me hasten to add that I am not suggesting that you tell trainers how to do their work, but they are worth mentioning.


Yeah…great training delivery approaches work both ways…


11 Unusual Ways to Ensure Participants Engage in Training

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Lorna Barrow

Lorna Barrow is a Business Breakthrough Specialist, an unfiltered Transformational Speaker, a Writer, a Coach and a self-confessed Small Business Junkie. She recognises that small businesses are unique and when it comes to helping you and your business make that BIG breakthrough, she's all in for you!

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