Most people have had the experience of either presenting to or being part of a group where half the attendees didn’t want to be there and the other half weren’t quite sure why they were there. This of course presents a major dilemma to the poor person who is delivering the training. The following 6 keys strategies are important to turn such a potential tough situation into a powerful learning experience.
1. Anticipate this Challenge – work off the assumption that your prospective audience might be like this and prepare them in advance. Send them an article about what you do, have them do an assessment or some other type of pre-work. If nothing else get them curious.
2. Prepare Managers – depending on the scope of the presentation it might be beneficial to speak or communicate with managers of prospective attendees so that they are talking up the program beforehand.
3. Make a Good Start – do something unusual at the beginning to get their attention. They say impressions are formed in the first 30 seconds so don’t start with your name – they most likely already know that. Make a bold statement, quote a real important statistic, use humor (if you are good at it) but above all do something that grabs them.
4. Make it Experiential – get attendees doing something that is fun but more importantly enhances and connects with the learning. Games, roles plays, lively debates, etc. all serve this purpose and gets people to engage with what you are talking about.
5. Practice / Practice – beyond the interactive piece provide opportunities for people to practice what is being taught. Make it an extension of the classroom learning, such as peer work, projects, reading, etc with some form of accountability built in to ensure it gets done.
6. Test Knowledge – as much as people might hate the idea of a written or oral exam, this really forces participants to optimize the learning experience, seek clarification when something is not understood and speak with other class participants about the content. All of this leads to retention of content and a far greater likelihood of usage.