In yesterday’s Advisor, Laura MacLeod, LMSW, creator of From The Inside Out Project® training, shared some common mistakes trainers make in terms of engaging learners. Today MacLeod shares best practices for trainers to follow before and during training to help boost their trainees’ engagement.
Q: What should trainers do before and during training to drive learner engagement?
A: “If possible, check in with participants before the training and invite their ideas. What do they need, and what would they like to learn? This helps get buy-in; it shows you want to collaborate and gear the training to meet their needs,” says MacLeod.
MacLeod says it is “absolutely essential” for learners to understand up front what’s in it for them when it comes to training. “When participants know why they are there and what they’ll gain, they will invest.”
She says this message should be delivered to learners before training and at the start of it. “If you’re able to share with participants before the training, they will come in with a positive attitude, ready to get started. When you start, you want to reiterate and reinforce the purpose and benefits, so everyone is on the same page.”
MacLeod recommends directly stating the purpose of training and listing specific benefits. For example, if you are providing conflict resolution training, you might say, “You’ll learn practical skills and tools for managing disagreements and conflicts with coworkers and supervisors. This will improve relationships, relieve stress, and increase your confidence.”
Being responsive to learners will also drive engagement, she says. “Trust your instincts and respond to what you’re getting from the group.” She suggests scanning the room. “Look around at group members as you talk, and when others are talking. You want to know who’s in the game, who’s not, and get a sense of how things are progressing (or not). Use statements rather than questions to open the door for participants to share and offer feedback. Don’t be afraid to ‘reach for the negative’—if you feel they’re bored, angry, or frustrated, say it. Don’t avoid the elephant in the middle of the living room.”
Learner participation is critical for boosting engagement in training, says MacLeod. “Without participation, it’s just a lecture. And I can easily Google the topic and read about it on the Internet. No point in coming to the training. Training should involve group process—collaborating, sharing, and learning from others.”