Some trainers believe engagement is all about the topic presented. While there may be a shade of truth in that, a lack of engagement in your training session is likely due to things you’re not thinking about. But they are easy to correct.
If you want an engaged, lively audience with unparalleled learning at your next training session you need to know why disengagement occurs before you can remedy it.
3 Common Obstacles to Training Session Engagement
In addition to physical needs and discomforts, your trainees may be suffering from:
Lack of Employee Engagement and Boredom
Lack of engagement or boredom is one of the top reasons attendees lose interest. Once they do, it’s impossible to get it back – outside of creating a deafening noise – and even that’s temporary. When you take command of a room, you have as few as fifteen seconds to draw attention. After that, the attendees’ heads and minds are buried in their cell phone screens.
When you’re planning a corporate training event, the other part that may be hindering your efforts to garner attention is that you may be dealing with disengaged employees. Often with a disengaged employee or one who is having difficulty meeting performance expectations, management offers additional training as a last step to bring them back around.
Unfortunately for many, disinterest is not reversible. According to a three-year research project out of Middlesex University’s Institute for Work Based Learning, out of 4,300 workers, 74% felt they were not achieving their full potential at work. They cited the need for more development opportunities.
It is extremely difficult to turn this type of non-training related disengagement around. That’s why it’s important to identify it by speaking with their managers ahead of time, if possible. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of time working your engagement strategies, only to find they’re simply going through the motions as part of a performance improvement plan.
Disinterest in the Topic or the Presenter
Some corporate training sessions are forced events that the employee may not have an interest in. This places you at a disadvantage from the beginning. Wondering where your employees are in their interest in your content prior to the presentation and why that matters? One in three employees admits that uninspiring content is a barrier to their learning. So, not only are they not interested, they’re not getting anything from it. This is not a good return on your investment.
While we’ll discuss ways to deal with this disinterest in the next section, the best way to handle a lack of interest in the topic is by creating a story of relevance. Why is what’s being presented important to your audience? How does it benefit them? It’s essential to ensure your attendees know this as well as the objectives of the course before they file into your room or dial in. And it’s up to you to make sure it happens.
Dislike of Passive Activities
When PowerPoint first entered the scene it was met with amazement. Slides could have ClipArt and fly-ins that engaged the viewer in a richer visual experience. But presenters didn’t always take advantage of these capabilities and created text-heavy slides. The audience quickly lost interest as the presenters simply narrated the slides. Then came Prezi where movement held attention. But in both of these situations, presenters are still creating a passive experience. Watch what I place on the screen and listen to what I tell you. That tactic is a one-way ticket to Snoozefest. You need engagement and active pursuits. To improve the interactivity between the speaker and the attendees, you should use a technology which is made for this purpose.
3 Tips for Involving the Audience at Your Training Session
In order to combat the challenges to a successful training session, you need to make sure all elements that could create discomfort are addressed. You want to ensure your trainees’ physical needs are anticipated and met. You’ll want to engage your audience, combat disinterest, and overcome the boredom associated with passive activities. That requires action. The following concepts and pro tips will help you seize and hold attention at your next training session:
Active Learning Tools
No one wants to stare at a screen while someone speaks in a monotone, narrating all the text in front of them. In an educational setting, active learning leads to much higher success rates. In one of the largest studies on active learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), it was discovered that students in a traditional lecture course were 1.5 times more likely to fail than those classes that used active learning practices. It’s important to keep this in mind when designing your training sessions.
Additionally, breaks are essential to any learning environment. We cannot be asked to sit still for long periods of time. It’s impossible and unhealthy. If learners are unable to move, their minds will wander. So, it’s essential that you get people up and moving.
Changing up the schedule is also key to a successful training session. Use presentations, games, and quizzes to stimulate different types of learners. Quizzes are a good idea because they can test comprehension as well as help your trainers understand the level of topic mastery learners are coming in with. Quiz functions also set the tone for encouraging questions, a very valuable part of any learning experience.
Practice pencils down, phones up. In a traditional classroom setting phone use would be discouraged. But in doing so, you’re killing off a very valuable engagement tool. Learners likely won’t listen to you anyway. Instead, harness this competitive threat to attention and turn it into an opportunity.
- Visual collaboration: visual collaboration is a necessity at your next training session for several reasons. It keeps your attendees focused on the content, improves retention, encompasses a wide array of opinions on the subject matter, and ensures all voices are heard. Plus, the technology is likely new enough to your attendees that the novelty will make an impression.
- Polls: Surveying your audience helps provide an engaging situation on two levels. It requires audience participation and sharing and allows the presenters to use the information to personalize the training. Couple this with instantaneous session evaluations and you have a recipe for success. You can use your phone to launch different polls and surveys to your attendees.
Stories draw people in but they do more than that. Storytelling enables neuro coupling which allows listeners to shape and apply the story to their own experiences. Emotionally charged events, like listening to an amazing story, cause the brain to release dopamine, which is not only pleasurable, it helps listeners remember with greater accuracy.
- Collaborative content: Encourage your attendees to share content with the group and become part of the active, ongoing story. Stories needn’t be static. A good one unfolds. Just as the reader shapes the novel, the learners should shape the presenter’s story. This not only makes the employee feel important but also helps the class see a different perspective. This can also be done through public walls of social posts or images.
- Hero casting: Cast learners as the heroes of the stories while the presenter can play the position of the wise sage who helps the learners achieve their goals. To cast the presenter as the hero of the story erects a barrier between the presenter and the audience. The audience is now watching a story and not playing an active role. Learners must identify with the story in order for it to build an effective relationship
Even the driest material can be brought to life by an expert presenter. Someone who relates to the audience, presents the content in a dynamic way, and encourages others to be part of the discussion can help interest your audience even if the topic is less than exciting.
- Table learning: Interactive discussions in small groups allow for a variety of opinions and experiences to be heard. You can even use devices such as tablets to collect group work, near or far.
- Learning styles: People learn differently. Include activities for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners to ensure everyone’s learning needs are met and maximized.
Why Worry About Engagement in Your Training Session?
If your session suffers from a lack of engagement, you can be assured that will affect your audience’s ability to retain the information presented. Training sessions are an investment in your employees. If they’re not retaining the information, you’re not receiving a good return on investment. According to the microlearning company Grovo, businesses are losing big in training. It’s estimated they’re losing $10 million a year on the skills gap, $2 million on disengaged employees, and $1.5 million on employee turnover, for a total of $13.5 million per year per 1,000 employees. Who can afford that?
It’s time to turn those statistics around by focussing on ways to get learners’ attention, improve their knowledge on the important topics you’re presenting, and enable their voice so they can share their experiences as well.
At Evenium, we can help you do that. Our technology makes learning and connecting fun for the presenter and the audience. With our visual collaboration tools, you’ll inspire even the most reluctant audience to take part in active learning, which improves their connection to the content and increases the likelihood that they will use their learning in the workplace.