When my participants, especially 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?”
I ask myself this question all the time and the perennial answer is “no one size fits all participants!” Despite this answer, I have developed and discovered some approaches which work great to get participants to engage in training. It’s these that I share below.
Remind the participants that they are adults
You may think this is crazy. But many people who come to training come with strong concepts of classroom training from their college or high school days. Reminding them that they are adults and must take responsibility for their learning really changes the dynamic of their engagement.
The other reason for reminding them that they are adults is so that I can really treat them as adults, with some knowledge and experience of the topics, which I expect them to share.
“Host” the training activity
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.
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 engage in training.
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 fully and actively engage in training, knowing that they have committed to their own self-development.
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, you will at least once, end up in a place where what you plan is not resonating with the participants.
What do you do? You throw out you carefully, well thought-out plans. Then you create one 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.
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.
Learn the skill of story-telling and use it to deliver your content
I can’t stress enough the power of story-telling for delivering training. You must enhance your delivery with stories and make your 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 make them funny. Select examples and analogies that your trainees can relate to, chosen from their work and life. Learn some of the many story-telling techniques and develop some of your own. Nothing...like nothing engages your participants like stories.
Go deep on at least one topic
Many employers who pay for training like to see a packed programme. 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 engage 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.
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.
I do this by limiting the number of handouts and designing them carefully. Then I encourage them to take their own notes not only from what I say but also from what other participants say. I advise them to include their feelings and any way their can use the new information.
Get creative with group feedback methods
Do you know the most popular way facilitators use to get feedback from group work? Yep! That one. You don’t have to be stuck with having the “reporter” report back on behalf of his or her group.
Try asking groups to report back by performing a short skit or by explaining a picture which they drew. Or get them them to organise a radio call-in programme, a press conference or anything else you come up with.
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.
Now it’s over to you...
Facilitating training is one of the most rewarding activities - if done well! It requires commitment, creativity and love of what you do.
I have already gone deep on one topic that you can tap into, that's story-telling. Check out the tips which you can use to improve to really help your participants engage in training...
To your facilitation success...