Worst. Feeling. Ever.
Normally you like having enough time to get tasks done, but today is different.
You’ve got to fill 8 hours.
8 hours, in front of a group of 20 terminally bored individuals who would rather be anywhere else.
It’s you’re first time.
Jack, a company veteran and regular trainer, is sick today and your boss selected you to stand in. It’s day 3 of new hire orientation training. Right now you’re sure you feel sicker than Jack.
The topic of today’s training is “office procedures.”
Sure, you know how to open and close the office; How to turn on the printer; How to order coffee refills… But how are you going to keep this interesting for 8 hours?
Topic number 1 is “What to do if you’re going to be late to the office.” A winning topic that is bound to engage participants for the 15 minutes you’ll ramble about it.
As the clock beats louder towards 9, panic sets in.
What are you going to say? How are you going to keep their attention? How are you going to feel when you see them looking at their watches or checking their smartphones when they should be listening to you?
You’re nervous because all the pressure is on you. You have to make today’s training session a success. You have to keep participants interested. You have to make sure that they are learning. You have to talk. All eyes are on you.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The best training sessions are those where the focus is away from the trainer. The most successful workshops are the ones where the facilitator does the least talking.
The best training sessions and workshops are those which are experiential, where participants are learning hands-on. It is these training sessions where the content is likely to stick once the day is over.
Contrast this with the day-to-day training sessions you’ve attended at work where the facilitator does all the talking and participants do all the listening. What is the feeling in the room? Most participants can’t wait to leave. Most trainees spend their time considering what to eat for lunch or whether they should cook or eat-out for dinner.
Push to participants
How should you run an experiential training session?
Handle the session by pushing to participants.
Have participants discuss session topics in groups. Have participants discover on their own. Have discussion groups present-out results and challenge each other. If there is a particular answer you need them to reach, then your only job is to follow-up at the end with some feedback.
Let’s look at an example. Above we talked about office procedures, and the topic, “What to do if you are going to be late to the office.” Let’s use this as the training scenario.
Here’s how to train participants in an experiential way:
- Introduce the topic of “What to do if you are going to be late to the office”
- Divide participants into groups (groups of 3 to 6)
- Ask groups to discuss their ideas and come up with 3 protocols for what to do if they are going to be late
- Ask groups to present their ideas to the rest of the trainees. Trainees from other groups can ask them questions
- Get groups to resume together and select the best protocol of the 3
- Follow up with feedback (and correction if necessary)
In the above scenario you would be speaking, and the focus of attention, for a very small percentage of the overall training time. This is beneficial for you and for your trainees. Beneficial for your trainees because they get more involved in the topic, feel like they own it, and come away with a better understanding of the final result. Beneficial for you because you’re not the focal point of the room for the entire training session.
Push to participants to make your training session a success all round.