6 Tips to Engage While Educating

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Capture Your Audience and Tailor Your Materials For a Better Presentation

When you hear the word “training,” what comes to mind? Do you envision bright, exciting learning opportunities or dull, sleepy PowerPoint presentations? Is your mind engrossed in your training materials or are you focused on your phone? Are you enamored with the presenter or counting the seconds till you get out of there?

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The answers to these questions often land on the negative end of the spectrum. Change, a common driver of training initiatives, isn’t always accepted with open arms. Busy schedules make it difficult to justify dropping normal work duties, even for only a few hours. People can get comfortable resting on their performance plateaus and it sometimes takes quite a bit of influence to inspire them to climb the next mountain.

Coercing team members into the positive range doesn’t require large incentives and gimmicks. Sometimes all it takes to bring your training efforts to the next level are a few minor, easy-to-implement tricks.

Sell the Purpose

Explain why the training is going to change their lives for the better.

A B2B technology go-live, for example, often dedicates a launch phase solely to training the client’s teams. These teams don’t know you or your product, they’re simply told to show up.

Sell them. Tell them why this product is going to help them. You’ve sold to the executive, now sell to the users!

Tailor to Fit

Once you’ve explained why training will help the group, there really is no reason to continue pointing out every incredible aspect of the program or idea.

It is natural to be passionate about what you’re teaching, but remember these people aren’t nearly as interested in your passions. Stick to the applicable items for the group. A coffee shop barista, for example, rarely uses Excel and PDF exporting features in his or her daily job.

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You may be really eager to show such features off, but remember your audience. Don’t allow your passions to overtake your ability to influence the group with meaningful, applicable teaching points.

Segment by Skills

Some trainees will understand the material in minutes. Others will need hours. Still others will require personalized, individual attention.

Try breaking the groups up or creating individual modules for each person to execute on their own. Allow the experts to blast through the training at their own pace. Allow the beginners to really take their time, soak up the material, and ask questions. The training will be more effective and smaller class sizes increase trainee satisfaction.

Professional Prep

Provide exciting, useful materials. Use color. Use graphics. Split up the media by providing information on paper, presentations, and showing videos. Try to memorize your material from beginning to end and reference them throughout the session.

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Run through your training presentations beforehand. Check out the IT systems in the presentation room when at all possible. Coordinate with IT folks ahead of time and execute a couple dry runs prior to setting up the class. Nothing is more disruptive than a training session filled with technical difficulties. Make sure it all works!

Deal with Non-Learners

Every group has one…the heckler. The questioner. The dug-my-heels-in drone.

This person doesn’t want to learn. They don’t want to change. They question everything simply for the sake of questioning you. They huff under their breath, make comments about the process being “too complicated” and “unreasonable.”

Don’t give up. Use your exceptional knowledge base to address their concerns and ignore the negativity. Sometimes you will not get through to everyone and that’s ok. The objective of training is for people to learn and you want to promote an environment that fosters such results.

When training client teams, let the clients work with the individual. When this is your associate you are attempting to train, make the call as to whether or not someone like that belongs on your team.

Pop Quiz

Ask questions to liven your audience up. Pause every now and then and ask them about the material.

Questions such as “Can anyone guess what the purpose of these reports is?” or “How many of you have experienced issues with your ticketing system? What are you top three issues?” can capture the attention of your crowd. Pepper your inquiries throughout the presentation and be sure to redirect responses so they remain focused on the training objectives.

There’s a fine line between opening the floor to constructive responses and opening the floor to a plethora of complaints. 

It can be an upward climb to convince your employees that training is worthwhile. Thankfully, a few minor tweaks to your program can act like footholds on your trek up Mt. Persuasion. The next time you need to teach a group, try implementing a few of the tips mentioned above. With just the right blend of professionalism and creativity, you can ensure your team reaches the top in no time.

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Image: iStockphoto

About The Author

Jennifer Ludwigsen is a freelance writer with a colorful variety of skills gained from her time as a U.S. Army medic, mother of two, and ingenious life-lesson learner. She currently works for the largest medical group in Illinois in multiple administrative capacities, serving both the executive team and the vast practitioner and patient population. Jennifer has leveraged technology in multiple facets of her life to enhance her corporate day job, evening parenting job, and late-evening freelancing job. Connect with Jennifer on TwitterLinkedIn, and her website, Concentrated Creativity.