Build the Stage + Aim to Engage
In today's world of distractions and barely-there budgets, creating an engaging training session can be full of challenges. But with a little bit of creativity and imagination, you can easily transform a basic and boring training session into a world-class event.
Below are a few ideas to get you started.
Let me just state the obvious real quick. People are going to check their phones during a training session. It's practically a given. As rude and disrespectful as that behavior is toward the trainer/facilitator/lecturer, it happens, and the temptation is always going to be there for your trainees, even if you set up ground rules. It doesn't matter how many warnings or reprimands you give, your audience will keep trying to sneak peeks, or maybe even whip out a second device, if they can.
It's just the type of world we live in. <Insert shrug>
So, how do you compete with that?
By using human behavior to your advantage and giving your trainees the green light to use technology in the training session.
In other words, implementing iPads + Tablets in your sessions, but only if the type of training you're conducting is flexible enough to handle it, and doesn't require specific equipment (certain programs on desktop computers).
Here are a few interactive (and cost-effective) options you can explore:
- Kick off the training session with real-time polls. Ask your learners what their expectations are, how they're feeling, or what they hope to learn and gain. During the training, you can use polls to ask more specific questions relevant to the topic you're discussing. Check out ZohoSurvey, Poll Everywhere, Survey Monkey, and Google Forms.
- Integrate some quizzes. Test your learners before and after the session to see what they actually know and learned (aka pre and post tests). You can even insert mini knowledge checks to gauge their progress throughout the session. Take a look at ProProfs Quiz Maker and Google Forms.
- Add videos. Videos are always a great way to keep people's attention, especially if they're funny. The good thing is, you don't need a production crew to create your own videos, you can just grab an iPad and go. You can record scenarios, interviews, and hands-on demonstrations and show them to your audience to increase their level of understanding. And if you're looking for a shortcut, just remember: you can't randomly pluck those YouTube clips you found browsing the Internet. Things get pretty dicey when it comes to fair use law, and unless its strictly for use in an educational/non profit environment, it doesn't apply to the training realm. To be on the safe side, you're better off making your own. Think iMovie for Mac or Camtasia for Windows (not totally a shoe-string price, but worth it!).
Remember, the goal is to make the training as interactive as possible so people aren't sitting there like stale sardines. You want them to be engaged - not wishing they were back at their desk answering phones, filing, or even flossing their teeth.
A training session is nothing without accessories. Absolutely nothing. If all you're bringing to your training sessions are handouts and a PowerPoint, then it's time to change that. Accessories can add some spice to your sessions, and give it a special touch, but also help you stay organized and help keep your learners focused.
So, for your next training session, think about adding the following, if you haven't already:
- Name tags
- Clocks + Timers
- Markers + Pens
- Highlighters + Sticky Notes
- Flip charts
- Prizes + Awards
- Fidget toys
You don't have to break the bank either to get any of these items, either. You can check out your local Dollar Tree, Dollar General, or Walmart in the Teacher or Back to School isles, or head on over to Amazon for some budget-friendly finds.
Have you ever thought about moving your training off-site to another location? Just to give your staff a break from the usual? Or help them to gain a better understanding of the environment they'll be working in? Changing the location of your training session can help your team focus better, gain a bigger perspective on their role in the company, and allow them to have a little more fun outside of their normal environment. You can start small by moving a soft skills training outdoors, or even renting an affordable event room for
Another option is setting up a training session as a field trip; this is a great option when you want your trainees to:
- Observe the way a product is created
- Watch part or all of a process being performed
- See "the way things are done around here," to get an overall vibe of the business culture
And of course, there are the obvious reasons to choose a different location such as to:
- Accommodate more students
- Host activities and special training events
- Provide a more relaxing atmosphere
Making the decision to change your training location may not make sense in every situation, but it's definitely something to consider in the future if you're ready to change things up.
Presentation is everything. Don't ever let anyone tell you different. It doesn't matter if you're decorating for a party, or to set the tone for the office. People are visual and want them to walk into an atmosphere that is inviting and colorful, so think about what you can do to achieve that.
Here are a few key tips before you start going crazy with the streamers:
- Stay on brand. Don't use orange and pink streamers, if your business colors are blue and white. You want to be consistent and cohesive. But at the same time, you want to appeal to the brains of your audience.
- Appeal to the senses. Who says your handouts have to stay black and white? Think about photocopying them in a lighter color that complements your brand. Add some colorful graphics and charts in your worksheets and keep them in branded folders. Your learners will be ten times more likely to engage themselves with your training content if you make it striking. You can create some sophisticated infographics from Canva, or Pikochart - two really easy to use and affordable rapid design tools.
- Get volunteers. It's always great to have a few helping hands to assist you with planning and designing your training session. You can't do it all, you know, so why not extend the offer to a few employees who want to help improve the sessions and have an eye for decorating and making things look sharp. Create a planning committee and put their skills to use!