How To Engage Your Participants At The Beginning of A Training Session

Public speaking a learnable skill. The more you practice, the better you will be. In my training, I will ensure that I am fully prepared for the topic I am going to deliver. Before the actual delivery, I will put myself into the right state of mind. However, do you seriously believe that by doing these you can become a good trainer? My answer is "no" and the reason why I say "no" is that I discover another element that is important in all my training, i.e. to keep my participants engaged and involved so that they can learn more and faster. In this article, I will share with you some techniques I use to achieve this goal.

I used to believe that it would be fine if I did not satisfy all my participants in a training session because there would always be someone who did not like me. However, under my mentor's guidance, I know that this belief is not true and I have reframed my definition of a successful training session. To me, a successful training session is one when all my participants have learnt at least one new thing. This reframing exercise has helped me a lot and I begin to see some drastic results in my training with some good feedback received from my participants. Now, here is what I will do in the introduction of all my training:

Building rapport is a must

What I did in the past was to go straight to the presentation as I focused on the delivery of the content. I thought that as long as my content was of good quality, my participants would be satisfied. This is not true because as a trainer, I now know I have to focus on my participants instead of me and the content of my presentation. Therefore, nowadays I will allocate at least 10 to 15 minutes to build rapport with my participants. It is almost certain that I will show them my family photo for a start. Depending on the subject matter, I will share with them my personal story to relay to the topic I am going to speak. The purpose of all these is to make my participants feel that I am their friends and not just a trainer.

Keep the trump card with you

In the past, I had a slide in my introduction to outline all the topics to be covered in my training. This is like "show hand" in poker if you know what I mean. I realized that as a result of this, some participants would not pay full attention to what I said. In the end if they claimed that they did not understand the topic, they would put the blame on the training manual and/or me. To ensure that they take full responsibility for their own learning and pay attention to every part of my training, I will keep the trump card with me. In other words, I will introduce one small segment of the topic at one time so that the participants will remain curious as to what will be the next segment. This technique is quite useful to keep my participants engaged and involved during the entire training.

Different participants have different learning styles

As a certified trainer in Extended DISC profiling tools, I understand there are different behavioral patterns among my participants. This means that they all have different learning styles. If I were to use only one style to deliver my topic, it would be a disaster. Hence, here is what I will do in my introduction:

  • Some participants prefer to see a big picture and not details. During my introduction, I will present this big picture to this group and suggest to them how they can benefit in future by applying what they learn.

  • Some participants prefer to learn and have fun at the same time. After dealing with the "big picture" participants, I will assure this group during my introduction that learning will be fun because there will be different group activities to reinforce their learning.

  • Some participants focus on teamwork in learning. Therefore, I will assure them during my introduction that in all group activities, all participants will help each other so that no one will be left behind in the learning process.

  • After dealing with the first three groups of participants, the last group will be those who are waiting for me to deliver the details. During my introduction, I will ask them to be patient and at the same time assure them they will get all the details they need.

As you can see, these are just a few things you can do during the introduction of your training so as to keep your participants engaged and involved. Keep in mind that each training session is different and you should remain as flexible as you can be in order to handle different situations that may arise. Finally, as a reminder the more you practice, the more effective you will be as a trainer.

I hope you will benefit from my sharing. Now, what are you planning to do in your next training session?