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.
February 16, 2015

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Simple steps for winning hearts and minds

Nicole Vazquez continues her series on getting the most out of training. Her third article can be found here.

Sadly, health and safety training is often seen by delegates as a ‘must do’ and something to ‘get through’ and not always as something that is positive and beneficial. In previous blogs I have explored how to design and prepare for effective training, however all that planning could fall at the last hurdle if you don’t engage hearts and minds during the first minutes of the actual training. Material that promises to be interesting and relevant is vital and setting up a stimulating, positive environment can help delegates become more open and receptive; that first impression really sets the scene.

Here are some practical steps to help you deliver a fun, interactive and effective training session:

  • Establish rapport. As the trainer you should care about the learning of your delegates and this should show; be genuinely passionate about your message and you will engender similar feelings in the group.
    You need to know your stuff and establish your credibility early on, but you do not need to become the omniscient presence in the room. Remember you are a ‘learning facilitator’ and you will be working with your delegates to explore the material. Value the experience and knowledge in the room and you will never feel challenged by it (or them by you).
  • Get them talking! Aim to keep your introduction short, ask delegates to get involved as early as possible. If you need to use an ice-breaker to liven up the group and to break down barriers (and remember you don’t always), then ensure it not only sets the tone but is pertinent to the learning.
  • Meet basic needs. People think more clearly and can engage better if they are comfortable, relaxed and focused. Make sure everyone is aware of break times, drink and facilities arrangements. Offer water and snacks during the session. Sweets and chocolate are fine (flavonoids in chocolate stimulate brain activity) and try to offer slower energy release options too (fruit, cereal bars, etc.) to avoid those blood sugar highs and lows.
  • Be brain friendly! Research shows that the traditional classroom style of straight rows, straight faces and silence can actually get in to way of learning. The brain works better when it is curious, learning is multi-sensory and there is an element of physical activity. Make the environment interesting: Playing music on arrival and during breaks, moving the tables around, offering small (quiet) toys on the tables for those that like to ‘fiddle’ can make it easier for delegates to stay alert and digest complex ideas. Warning: Never force this – some delegates may see this as ‘childish’ and therefore may set up a resistance to the day rather than engage. Introduce the concept with your rationale and offer as an option, “It’s not compulsory to play”.
  • Apply the learning. Always allow time for delegates to test out the ideas they are presented with. We tend to commit information to our long-term memory when we have applied the concepts to practical use. Offer exercises that test out the theories and apply the knowledge in a way that is relevant and realistic to the group.
  • Have a strong finish! To create ownership and recognition, ask the group to summarise their learning from each part of the session in their own words and then clarify any points as necessary. Challenge individuals to write an ‘Action Plan’ of what they are going to do with the learning. There is something about committing actions to paper that encourages action, it gives you something to assess when you measure the impact of the training at a later stage…but that’s for the next blog.

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