Photo by: Alexandr Pirogov via Pixabay
Every winter I do a lot of skiing with my ski club. We own a home in a resort community in Northern New Hampshire in the Mt. Washington Valley. As with many social or business clubs or organizations, it often seems like a small number of people do all the work when it comes to running the club. Perhaps you see this phenomenon happen in your training as well. Try as you might to get everyone to participate, a small number of learners likely do most of the work. You’ve seen them. They raise their hands to answer all your questions, they lead the small group activities, and they volunteer to scribe answers on flip charts and white boards. Instructors absolutely love these people! They take a lot of pressure off the instructor and keep the flow of the course moving.
Well, what do you do if you really want to get more people involved in the course? Remember, not every participant is wired to be vocal and active. Be sure to set your expectations to a realistic level. We can’t make everyone the “perfect” learner, but we can use tried and true techniques to get more participants involved in our courses.
Here are five techniques you can use to get learners more involved in your training:
1. Ask more questions – Did you know there are multiple levels of questions you can ask your learners in training? Encourage deeper learning by asking application, synthesis, analysis, and evaluation questions, just to name a few.
2. Have learners conduct their own reviews and summaries – At the beginning or end of the training day, or before or after lunch, have participants share and summarize content, clarify key points, provide examples, and discuss best practices they learned in the session. Not only will this get learners more involved, it will help them retain the information.
3. Increase your use of positive reinforcement – When you sincerely praise and reward your high-performers, other learners will quite often raise their game and increase their participation.
4. Use neighbor discussions – This is a simple technique in which you ask participants to discuss a topic or make decisions together with their closest table neighbor. Even the quietest learners typically feel comfortable with this type of activity as it is low risk.
5. Play games – It’s quite magical to see shy, quiet people suddenly come alive when you play a game to review course content. Encourage fun and gentle game-like competition between groups while increasing retention of the content.
Using these five techniques will not only get learners more involved in your training, you’ll begin to enjoy the role of a facilitator, rather than just a presenter! Your energy level will also increase, and you’ll be better equipped to avoid burnout.
So, there you have it trainers, get everyone more involved in your training and have some fun!
For even more techniques to increase learner participation and encourage deeper learning, check out our How Adults Learn workshop, offered in both traditional and virtual formats.