February 12, 2018 // Makara Gerber
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to sit through some type of training, meeting, or presentation where you felt disconnected from the speaker(s) and the message they were presenting. Everyone should have their hand up!
We can all relate to a time where we maybe weren’t the best listeners or the most engaged audience. Sometimes the impact of this is very minor, but other times, the impact is substantial. Employee training is one of these situations that is greatly impacted by lack of attentiveness and engagement. If an employee is supposed to be learning the material to improve their work or take on a new skill set but they aren’t engaged, chances are they walk away from the training with little to no benefit.
So how can we make training an engaging process? How do we ensure that trainees are walking away with the knowledge and skills we want them to?
Start by creating value
The trainee should feel excited about what they will gain from the training. If they feel it has no value to them, what’s the point of being engaged?
Start your training by stating exactly what each individual will gain and how it will personally benefit them. If they are learning a new skill set for a job, explain the skill set and how they will be a more valuable employee because of it. This immediately sets the tone that you are investing in them and if they are invested in the training, they will profit. The key is the trainee must see the personal value.
It’s human nature to want to be rewarded for doing things. When we know what our reward is, or that there is even a reward at all, it increases the likelihood that we will take the task seriously. This same concept applies to training. Make the reward and value known and you will see an increase in engagement.
The Learning Style Challenge
Now that you’ve got everyone’s attention by creating personal value, you have to focus on keeping their same interest level throughout the entire training. It is important to remember that everyone has a different way of learning and absorbing information. The three main learning styles are visual, auditory, and tactile.
Visual learners take in the information they can see such as slide presentations, reading material, graphs, and pictures that illustrate a point. Auditory learners learn what is explained or spoken to them. Tactile learners are what we refer to as “hands-on” individuals, they learn by doing.
A big challenge in training is understanding that you must accommodate these different learning styles in order to keep everyone engaged. Training (especially a group training), should contain different elements of spoken material, visual aids, and hands-on activities. Spending too much time with one training style will lose the attention of your audience. I have found it most effective to pair my explanation of a topic with visual aids, activities, or exercises that relate to the topic I am teaching.
Blending the right balance of teaching styles will increase the attentiveness of trainees and their comprehension of the material being taught.
Anyone who has had to train or teach people knows that it can be a tough task. People present so many variables, some which cannot be controlled. What we can control, however, is the thought process and methodology behind why we teach the way we teach. Train with the goal to engage your audience, not to get a point across or push a message. If you engage your audience first, your point won’t have to be forced, they will welcome the information. Engaging your audience will cause them to be more attentive throughout training and ultimately walk out feeling better and more knowledgeable than they did before they walked in.
Effective and Engaging Training
Effective training engages the audience. Creating personal value for trainees and recognizing the unique learning styles you are dealing with are key to attentiveness and comprehension of the material. So take a look at how you are currently reaching your audience and ask yourself, are they engaged? Am I giving them a reason to be engaged? If you can answer yes to both of these questions, you are on your way to executing an effective training model.