Training Consultant

Author Bio ▼

Nicole runs Worthwhile Training and has over 20 years experience assisting organisations with practical advice to manage the risks associated employee’s personal safety, security and wellbeing.  She works with organisations to design, implement and embed control measures and training solutions to achieve measurable results.
January 19, 2015

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Simple steps to engage learners

Nicole Vazquez continues her series on getting the most out of training. The first part can be found here.

Imagine the moment… it’s Monday morning, opening up your emails, amongst the deluge of sales pitches and round robins there is a calendar invite from your Learning and Development department for mandatory training.

How do you feel? Does your heart sink or soar?

If the answer is sink, then whoever sent the invite has just set the training up to fail.

For any training to be successful, the learners need to be receptive and yet so many organisations forget how important it is to engage learners from the off. Fail to do this and the trainer will spend 25 per cent of the day (and therefore 25 per cent of your budget) trying to engage the group and lose the negativity that the mandatory training message created.

So when sending out your invites try some of the following:

  • Tell them what’s in it for them: Offer the day as an opportunity. Explain the benefits. People are interested in things that are going to help them feel better, be happier, save time, money or effort (now!), so find your anchor and present this first.
  • Tease them: Create the need for them to come along by posing some unanswered questions. “Do you know how to ensure that…?” “Can you honestly say that…?” Promise to give them the answers by the end of the session.
  • Let them know how much work has gone into it: “We have been planning this day and working on the contents of the course for three months to ensure that we have honed it to exactly what you need to learn in the short time you are with us.” This makes learners feels valued and shows how little time they need to put in compared to the effort you have made.
  • Allow enough warning: Make sure that you send the invite out in good time to allow people to block out their diary rather than have to rearrange it. Don’t forget shift cover, transportation, childcare issues all take time to organise.
  • Flatter them: Tell them how valuable their experience and input will be on the day. Encourage them to come along with ideas to share.
  • Call to action: Give an overview of the course (keep it short) and ask learners to actively engage by confirming that this suits their needs – ask them which bit of the day is most interesting to them. Use reply buttons to make it easy for them to respond.
  • Be precise about the time: Don’t call it a half-day or full-day training. Psychologically there is something more appealing about specific numbers (£197.80 feels better than £200.00 and not just because it’s cheaper, it looks like you have worked out the cost precisely). So try to start and finish off the hour. ‘Training will start at 09.50 but come along early for coffee if you wish and we will finish at 16.20’. Oh, and on the day, always finish earlier than that anyway – your little gift to them!

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Bob Wallace
Bob Wallace
9 years ago

Whilst there are some pertinent points identified, I personally find the best way to engage learners is to grab their attention within the first 30 minutes of the training session. Make sure they enjoy the training by making it interesting, interactive, relevant and rewarding; then they will pass on their positive reactions to others. Death by Power Point is too often the chosen medium and losing the will to live becomes the norm. Using “sound bites” and slightly condescending language to engage people may sometimes work, but H&S is such a dry subject and has suffered through delivery by bland… Read more »

Nicole Vazquez
Nicole Vazquez
9 years ago
Reply to  Bob Wallace

Firstly – thank you to Bob for engaging with the blog. Bob makes some interesting points which are to relevant to designing effective training material and specifically gaining engagement when you have the learners in the room. These subject areas are covered in the next two blogs, ‘Simple steps to produce effective training resources’ and ‘Simple steps to winning hearts and minds’. I find many learners come into the training room already in a negative frame of mind when the pre-course information and invitations have been handled ineffectively. This blog covered approaches for engaging learners prior to getting them in… Read more »

Matthew J Beckett
Matthew J Beckett
9 years ago

Interesting ideas, regarding the timings and identifying with the audience how much work has gone into the presentation. I will give it a go for the next training sessions that are being set up.

I find that a promise of hot beverages and snacks usually entices participation, and many of the courses i have been on often break up the day with quizes ‘relevant’ on course material with fun tie breakers with prizes (chocolate bars) which helps.