As a training professional, I’ve encountered a good number of people who think they can do what I do. It looks so easy, after all, and fun!!
In fact, the vast majority of corporate training actually happens without the help of a professional corporate trainer. Business leaders and managers are often tasked with training their teams—and the results can range from boring to disastrous.
However, I am a firm believer that training sessions can (and should) be both engaging and educational. I also know you don’t have to be an experienced trainer to pull that off. You just need a few strategies to get it right.
Start with a Story
You’ve probably heard you should start a speech with a joke. Training is not the same as giving a speech, but this principle is similar. The idea is to put people at ease, and laughter is a good way to do that.
However, an awkward, forced joke isn’t a good way to accomplish that goal. Instead, share an authentic, light-hearted story that makes you and the topic relatable. For example, if you’re leading a training on customer service excellence, why not start with a story of horrible service you recently got at the local grocery store? Share how it made you feel and ask the group what they would have done differently.
The opening of the session sets the tone, and while you want people to take the training seriously, you also want them to feel free to share their misgivings, concerns, and questions. The right story can help make you more approachable and the topic more relevant.
A good training session should not be a lecture. Experiential learning is considered superior for retention and comprehension. That means people need to experience the information, not just hear it or see it.
However, training exercises can go awry, so use good judgment here. Gauge the group’s tolerance level and don’t force them to engage too much. People can be resistant, especially if they don’t see the point of an activity.
Avoid overly touchy-feely exercises or anything that doesn’t serve a purpose directly related to the topic at hand. I’ve seen too many trainers engage in activities that take way too long, encroach on participants’ comfort, and only increase the group’s irritation.
Use Relatable & Relevant Examples
Every point you make should be backed by real-world examples that illustrate what you want the participants to learn. Share stories freely. But again, make sure they are highly relevant to the topic. Trainers abuse their power when they use the time in front of the group to share long-winded personal stories that lend nothing to the discussion.
Provide Action Steps
A strong training session includes specific, clearly defined, actionable steps for participants to take after the session is complete. If you fail to provide this, your participants won’t know how to implement what they’ve learned and training will quickly become seen as a time waster.
Remember: The success of training isn’t measured by what happens in the classroom; it’s about what changes out in the real world.
Also read: Want Employees to Think Like Owners? Do This First
Ask Participants to Share Experiences
In the workplace, your students have a wealth of experience to share on almost any topic. It’s not like teaching in a high school. Your training participants should be seen as an asset to leverage. They have wisdom that can contribute greatly to the discussion.
Ask participants to come prepared to share their experiences on the topic (or voice their concerns). The more you can get them to engage, the more fruitful the training will be. You’ll be better positioned to address their needs and build on their existing understanding. It’s a win-win for the group.
Sadly, training sessions are frequently met with frustration. This happens when training leaders fail to provide a worthwhile learning experience. You have the power to change that; it’s harder than you’d expect but just as fun as it looks. Use these strategies and you’ll be well on your way.