I work in the field of training and development and have met many course leaders and trainers who have shared with me that they’ve had trouble remembering the names of the participant’s in their training sessions. As a training professional, it’s something I’ve struggled with as well!
Calling someone by name is a simple way to make them feel recognized. Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” So, you say to yourself, “Great, I just need to use people’s names to connect with them.” Well, it may not be as simple as that, especially on the first day of a training session!
One of the principles of adult learning is self-esteem. In addition to having the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs, adult learners also have a strong need to maintain their self-esteem and to feel heard. Weaving this principle into your instructional design and delivery is so much easier when you truly connect with your learners.
Here are eight instructional techniques (or job aids) I’ve used to improve my ability to connect with my adult learners and remember their names:
1. Meet & Greet
When someone first introduces themselves to me, I greet them by name, and repeat it immediately: “Welcome, Jeff!”
2. Use it
Next, I use their name in a sentence as soon as I can: “Jeff, there’s coffee at the back table. Feel free to help yourself.”
3. Repeat it
I take a moment and introduce the new person to someone else in the training room: “Jeff, I’d like you to meet Alyssa. She’s from Colorado.”
4. Associate it
Starting a conversation and learning about a new participant allows me to associate their name with one of the tidbits I’ve learned about them. I typically ask where they’re from, what they like to do, information about their family, etc. This way I can associate them with that information (e.g. Jeff has two kids and is from Florida).
5. Visualize it
I like to go by a participant’s table and ask them to print their first name on the name tent. The key is to watch them print their name! If this isn’t possible, I’ll rewrite their first name on my class list when I review it, rather than just check it off. I also write down tips for pronunciation that might help me recall their name correctly.
6. Picture it
On the first day of training, I like to take a group photo. At the end of the day, I’ll have more information about everyone, so studying the photo and the class list allows me to make associations with their image. This also helps me to remember more about them for the upcoming training days.
7. Make it Stick
If you have a group of learners that don’t know each other, using a quick and simple name game like Kooshball Name Game or Remember that Name can break the ice and help you remember.
8. Train it
I use the mobile app, Elevate, to help me improve my memory. There are other apps available, too; however, I enjoy this one because it has a section specially designed to help you remember and associate names.
By taking the time to learn everyone’s name, as quickly as possible, we can build rapport, encourage respect and allow everyone to feel more comfortable collaborating and working together. It always pays off!
Want to learn more about adult learning principles? Then check out Langevin’s 1-day How Adults Learn workshop. Tell me about your experience with remembering names in the comment section below. I’d love to learn more about YOUR techniques!