Anyone who has been tasked with training staff internally will be all too familiar with the constant fear that you might ‘lose’ your audience.
This is perfectly natural; you want people to be engaged and learn, after all, and you certainly don’t want all of the time and effort you’ve put into a session to go to waste.
Here’s five of the most common reasons people become disengaged during training sessions:
The training you’re delivering will be structured and have key areas you need to cover, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick rigidly by it - particularly if your audience has specific requirements.
It’s important to start each session by asking questions of your audience and empathising with them. There’s no such thing as a generic training session - you need to understand what the people in front of you want to get from the session if its to engage them.
In turn, this will help you adjust the delivery of the course content to address specific knowledge gaps and areas of interest (just be careful not to veer too far off course!).
There’s nothing wrong with having some notes to work from as a trainer, but rely too heavily on them and you’ll switch from engaging presenter to monotonous robot.
With experience, you’ll learn to all but abandon notes, but you can give yourself a head start by keeping the leanest of bullet points close by in case you feel the class losing momentum or when an off-piste discussion takes your eye off the ball.
From the moment you start a training session it’s important to demonstrate that the learners will play a highly active role.
As the trainer, you’ll need to do a fair amount of the talking, but it’s also vital that you regularly invite questions and prompt those in attendance to finish your sentences or refer to earlier course content. This will aid significantly with information retention and prevent people from falling into smartphone-fiddling boredom.
PowerPoint presentations don’t have to be the death of a training session if they’re used correctly. Rely too heavily on your slides, however, and you’ll all but create your own disinterested audience.
Identify sections in the training programme that would benefit from visual stimulation and create simple slides for that purpose - but go no further. Keep your use of PowerPoint to an absolute minimum and, when it is called upon, turn the screen or projector off once the learners have had time to digest the content.
This is a trap far too many businesses fall into, and it’s so easily avoidable.
One of the reasons you might be losing your audience is because some of them simply don’t need to be there. Depending on job roles and responsibilities, the course content may be irrelevant for certain individuals who have been inadvertently included in a training sessions they don’t need.
To avoid this, make sure you’re involved in the pre-planning of the training. Consider the course content and, if convenient, speak to each suggested attendee before the day itself. Providing you can separate the people who simply don’t want to be there from those who genuinely won’t benefit, you can ensure no time is wasted for anyone.
Keeping people engaged during a training session is a tough skill to develop, but one that will come with practice, patience and our tips above by your side.
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