In today’s highly stimulating world, it can be challenging to hold an individual’s attention. It is especially difficult for trainers to gain and maintain participants’ attention during training sessions. Considering that the average adult attention span is only eight seconds, participant engagement is necessary for training to be effective. The key to effective training is ensuring interactivity is used to stimulate participants’ thinking throughout the training session and to increase their involvement.
Here are some tips on how to conduct an engaging training session:
Plan and Prepare
Long before participants walk through the door, a trainer must plan and prepare every detail of the training and have clear goals for the session. A trainer can identify a training’s objective by answering the following question: “what do I want participants to know or do as a result of this training?” Once objectives are defined, trainers must create a plan on how to implement and achieve those objectives. Trainers must think through all of the relevant details and ensure everything is prepared for the training session. Consider the length of the training, how often breaks will be provided, the room set-up, materials needed, and so forth. Plan out how the content will be delivered and allow extra time for more complex concepts. Remember that even with the best of plans, things may not go as expected, so be prepared to improvise and adjust as needed.
Explain Why and What
A critical part of grabbing the attention of participants is explaining the purpose of the training (i.e., why participants are attending the training), as well as what participants can expect to learn as a result of the training. Give participants an overview of what to expect and how this training session will benefit them. By addressing the “what’s in it for me” question in the minds of participants, a trainer can connect with participants and highlight the value of the training session.
Change It Up>
While lecturing is useful at times, it is crucial to use a variety of teaching methods to appeal to participants’ different learning styles. Engaging trainings typically include relevant video clips, pictures, diagrams, discussions, reflection exercises, stories, quotes, and activities. All of these tools should tie back to the learning objectives of the session.
When relevant, schedule in time for participants to practice the new skills during the training by having participants work in pairs to role-play or demonstrate the desired behavior. Walk around the room and provide feedback so participants can learn and improve.
Conclude the training session by reviewing key points and explaining next steps. Have participants make a plan for how they will put into practice the skills they learned during the session. End the session on a positive note by having participants share one element that they have learned as a result of attending the training. By prompting participants to reflect on the session, it helps the trainer understand if what the participants learned aligns with the objectives of the training.
Remember that, as a trainer, your participants will feed off of the energy you exhibit during the training session. So, have fun and deliver your best each time! When you give your all, participants are more likely to be engaged.
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