All L&D professionals understand that the more engaging a training programme is, the more likely it is that participants will immerse themselves in the and focus on applying the learning into the workplace.
And that what we’re trying to achieve? Application in the workplace and a return on investment?
Even highly motivated participants need a blend of professionally delivered input, involving and focussed discussion and hands-on activity that actively engages them by building on their interests and prior knowledge.
The challenge then is to create a learning design that achieves this. We can do this by:
- Ensuring course content is new and relates to participants’ working lives
If people are thinking ‘that wouldn’t happen here’, they will not engage. They should be able to relate to every example used so it is important that there is an element of bespoke to the programme.
- Using as many different media platforms as possible, including social media
No training programme should simply be a 9-5 instructor-led event. What about pre-course work, post course activity and social media communities? It is important that all of this is catered for to continue learning out of the classroom.
- Highlighting ways in which learning can be applied to real-life situations
It’s always helpful if the facilitator takes a few moments to help people identify situations when the learning can be applied. This embeds the training and is a great reminder for the delegate when a similar situation arises in the future.
- Ensuring material is meaningful to participants outside work as well as within
This is especially true for issues around personal effectiveness, but don’t forget the next step - transferring that increased confidence into the workplace.
- Encouraging engagement by emphasising the ‘build’ on prior knowledge
People always like to be reminded of their existing talents, so highlight ways in which the new learning builds on that to increase confidence in applying the new skills.
- Ensuring that participants feel that the work they are putting in is significant, valuable, and worthy of their efforts
There is definitely some truth in the saying ‘the effort delegates put in will be in direct proportion to the value they think they will get out’. Be sure to give examples of how they can benefit out of the classroom to encourage this.
- Allowing participants to have some degree of control over learning (bearing in mind the organisational needs for consistency)
Simply asking them for their objectives and what they want to focus on gives them a sense of control and encourages engagement.
- Allowing choices such as whether to work with a partner, independently or in action learning sets
Similarly to point six, it’s easy to give them control over some of the mechanisms. Consider, how do they like to learn? Establishing this and delivering on it will motivate them to participate.
- Ensuring material is sufficiently challenging but achievable
A delicate balance is important here.
- Ensuring participants feel successful and that they've earned success
Take a few seconds to remind them how well they have done and how much they have learnt.
- Arousing curiosity and creating a sense of ‘discovery’
It’s always more engaging if there is a feeling of surprise and investigation in learning.
- Encouraging participants to share new knowledge with others
People like to think they are helping others too so encourage this throughout the learning.
- Making sure the whole environment is conducive to learning
Refreshments, music, space, light, colour, visuals – get these wrong and people will not engage. Every detail is important.
In my opinion, if you get these ‘trainer’s dozen’ aspects right you will have a successful training format that:
- develops participants’ sense of competency
- allows them to develop connections with others
- gives them some degree of autonomy
- provides opportunities for originality and self-expression and
- gets (and keeps!) them engaged
Contact us to discuss how we can help you create a programme that is successfully engaging and delivers results to your people.
Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.
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