Ideally, as trainers we want the participants in our programs to be eager to learn. However, sometimes our participants aren’t happy to be in the training for a variety of reasons.
Here are ways to engage participants, regardless of their initial feelings about the workshop:
- Make sure the program will give them relevant skills.
- Have managers support the training and explain what they want for participants to gain from it.
- Market the learning program from the standpoint of what the target participants feel important.
- If in-person, create a welcoming and comfortable learning environment (for example, seating participants in pods instead of rows, placing colorful kites on the walls, playing relaxing music).
- Have the participants discuss what they want from the workshop that will make it useful for them.
- Ask what are called common ground questions (“how many of you…?”) to have them raise their (real or virtual) hands if the question pertains to them. Ask enough questions so that all participants can raise their hands. This primes them to participate.
- Get their buy-in by having them identify which learning objectives are most important to them.
- Disconnect them from any negative prior experiences by having them identify the benefits of learning the content (WIIFM).
- Have seasoned and unseasoned participants form groups to ask and answer content-related questions- and then seat the group members together, (or place them in the same breakout room for activities), where they can continue the dialogue and support each other.
- Use learning activities that require them to participate by joining in discussions or exercises.
- Co-opt the more seasoned, more experienced participants by having them provide examples and facilitate small group discussions.
- Recognize that those participants who are quieter and more thoughtful are just as engaged as the participants who speak up.
- Facilitate fast-paced learning activities in a way that gives the participants who need time to think an equal chance to be successful.
- Give prizes for completed activities.
- Give breaks every 50 minutes to keep them energized and comfortable.
- Always treat them with respect as adults with their own knowledge and experience.
- Provide candy and tabletop kinesthetic tools!
- Make it so they want to come back after the first break.
Question: What do you do to engage participants in your training programs?
May your learning be sweet- and safe.
#humanresources #management #motivation #personaldevelopment #education