Trainers know that they have to work hard to keep the attention of their students. Recently, someone emailed me and said,
I am a technical trainer… My class varies in attendee background and experience and sometimes I feel the only way I can keep their attention is with a song and dance.
I have had several clients who teach technical, legal, or administrative subjects and say that their audiences think the topic is boring. Often, the trainees are employees who are required to attend, but don’t really want to. These trainers struggle to keep their sessions lively.
Here are some ideas that might help.
Colorful, surprising slides
Make sure that your slides are colorful and interesting. Use lots of images. Use images that surprise. A little shock value is good. Whenever possible, use photos of real people.
For example, one of my clients was discussing a committee that had to approve certain types of research at the University where she worked. I suggested that she take a head shot of each committee member so that researchers would feel more connection with them instead of thinking of the committee as just a bureaucratic process.
Be careful not to be the only one talking. When you interact with audience members, you keep them involves. Interactivity can include:
- Aasking the audience questions
- Answering their questions
- Breaking up into small groups for short exercises
- Creating challenging scenarios to work out. Scenarios are what-if situations, such as, “What would you do if a colleague said x and y to you?”
In certain situations, it’s appropriate to play games and give out prizes. You can give out prizes for simply answering a question, volunteering to do a role playing game, or anything you want. Make sure the prizes are seen as useful or interesting and that they are appropriate for everyone. (Most men won’t want a makeup kit and most women won’t want a tie.)
And don’t forget about food. One of my clients says that her trainees certainly aren’t happy if she doesn’t provide treats!
What do you do to keep your sessions lively? Leave a comment!
I have personally used the ‘prizes’ technique a lot and with excellent results. The first time it with a group of students. I gave away chocolates. Later I used with grown ups as well. Works all the time. But make sure you make the prize something desirable and not free for all stuff. Audience needs to do something that’s worth giving a prize.
music is the “universal” language – I love this concept and plan to incorporate! TY
I tend to start with a small food treat even if it comes out of my pocket. Often something fun and inexpensive like animal crackers will get everyone in a good mood.
I always use prizes–often trinkets from dollar stores. Sometimes they are practical (cute post it notes); sometimes they are humorous. I typically open training sessions with trivia questions, and my attendees know that humor and rewards will be part of all sessions. When I had a series of workshop during the Girl Scout Cookie Sale Season, I found trivia on line and distributed various cookies. Purposeful fun and cheap snacks definitely have a place in effectively training!
The slides and interaction are a given in my presentations, no matter how short or long. I incorporate one quiz that has a prize attached in many of my presentations, but not all. Usually something like a $5 gift card to one of our local ice cream places or Starbucks. I also put out toys on the tables for longer trainings: mini Etch-a-Sketches, mini Play-Doh, tiny Slinkys, tiny crayons… anything that’s quiet and will keep the kinesthetic learners’ hands occupied. And while the organizations I train for are usually responsible for having some snacks on hand, I do like to… Read more »
I used to be a full time dancer but my days are way over but dancing used to bring me a lot of prizes
LOL. Now, you could use the prizes for your audience when you train!