- Give everyone a pre-quiz before the ‘training’ to make the training count: After scoring and analyzing the pre-quiz, you’ll be able to customize your training’s ‘focus’ based on the needs of the audience. If your content doesn’t match the audience’s expectations, you’ll have an audience with no interest in paying attention.
- Let the audience do something: Most people learn by doing. Research shows that information is retained when people work through an exercise, complete a worksheet or collaborate with a peer. Show the audience another Powerpoint slide and you’ll have them reaching for their smartphone in no time.
- Follow up…quickly: Within 24 hours of the training’s end, send a follow-up short quiz, helping the attendees to recall the key aspects of the lesson. If this seems difficult (ie: But I covered so much?), it might be time to rethink the purpose of the ‘lesson’.
- The boss should not be the only trainer: Sometimes, the boss wants to show he or she is boss by sharing his or her knowledge with peers. More often than not, this person has the knowledge, but can’t teach it effectively. A better approach? Have multiple people present (a great growth challenge!!); it will keep the audience on their toes learning from a variety of teachers.
- Make it 1 hour: Not too long ago, I participated in a training session that was over two hours in duration. With 20 people in attendance, and many people ‘checked out’ by the halfway point, let’s suffice it to say it was a VERY costly meeting. If you must have ALL 25 people at the training, keep the duration to 60 minutes and you won’t tire everyone out mentally.
- Feed them and they might pay attention: If you consider feeding your audience – and strong coffee always helps – they will be more apt to pay attention to your lesson. How much could it be to get muffins and coffee for a large group? $200? Don’t be cheap.
- Put the audience in control: At the conclusion of your training, let your audience decide where are the gaps. Set up sticky notes on one wall. On each sticky note is a topic of interest for a future session. Give everyone 3 dots and let them vote (with their dots) on the area of most interest. Voila – you’ve just built your next training session.
- Online or offline? There’s no in between: Be firm with ground rules on electronic devices at the start of the training session. Either let your audience work through exercises and scenarios on their laptop/tablet or tell everyone they’ve entered a device-free zone. During a session I attended once, probably half the room was working on projects or email unrelated to the training. You might be better off just asking those folks to leave the session.
- Ask the audience: Before everyone leaves the training room, ask the following question: How would you make this training more effective? Some might be scared to contribute, but hopefully a select few offer suggestions which will raise the level of excellence the next time you are together.
- Make it optional: Wouldn’t you prefer to have a room full of people who want to be there? The people who really need the training will attend. If not, the people who aren’t there but should be? Well, they might not have a seat on the bus for long.
Training doesn’t need to be a pain. Make it relevant, focused and hands-on and you’ll be seen as a value-add…again and again.
Until next time,