You know how you work hard to engage every participant when you are training? I certainly do! And I used to focus all of my energy on the ones who did NOT seem engaged.
I was conducting a training program and continued to notice that a woman, sitting right smack in the middle of the class (isn’t that always the case!), was continually making unhappy faces at me. So I did everything I could to draw her into the session, being as charming and informative and entertaining as possible. Nothing I did made a dent in her negative demeanor.
When the break came, I walked behind her because I was planning to ask her what the problem was. Then I overheard her explaining to another participant that she was in great pain because she needed an operation on her leg. Her unhappy non-verbals had absolutely NOTHING to do with me or the training session!!! So I asked her if she would be more comfortable resting her leg on a chair and adjusted the seating arrangement to enable her to do just that.
I learned a very important lesson from that experience. When someone has to leave a session, or falls asleep even sitting in the front of the room, or makes unhappy faces, I do my best NOT to take it personally and, even more, not to notice and have the behavior affect me. I know that my training sessions are engaging and entertaining, incorporating ample participation and application of new learning. The one time a person actually did fall asleep, I knew he had to be incredibly tired- and found out later that he had been up all night with a sick family member.