Begin training by asking “common ground” questions that help the participants feel that they have something in common in relation to the training topic. A “common ground” question begins with: “How many of you…?” The participants who relate to the question should respond by raising their hands. Make sure that you ask enough questions to ensure that every participant feels included. For example, at the beginning of a conflict management class, if you ask: “How many of you have experienced conflict in your life?”, it is a good possibility that everyone will raise their hands. However, if you ask: “How many of you enjoy conflict?”, you probably need to follow that by asking: “How many of you would rather do anything else than engage in conflict?” You can then segue into an overview of how the training will meet those different needs.
An additional benefit: When you ask questions to which the participants respond by a show of hands, you subtly prepare them to actively participate during the training session.
May your learning be sweet.