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5 Tips to Transform Dull Topics into an Engaging Training*

July 17, 2018

Bueller, Bueller? Anyone, Anyone?

*Have you ever felt like the monotone, economics teacher played by Ben Stein in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” while you were facilitating? As though there is a room full of people and no one is listening to you? It’s not a good feeling or use of time for both the trainer and participants. The likelihood of the trainees leaving inspired and excited about a valuable experience is not likely.

 

Don’t blame your boring presentation on a boring topic!

 

Compliance, rapid regulatory, anti-harassment, end of life care, health and safety, rules and regulations– these may not be the most riveting topics but are necessary to know for properly functioning organizations. The facilitator and participants don’t enjoy reciting policies and procedures that one could read in a manual, so how does a trainer transform dull content into an engaging session that offers participants a better or new understanding? Take measures to cognitively engross your trainees!

 

Follow these tips to turn your boring training into an unforgettable experience:

 

1.  Start with Why

Simon Sinek said it best in his well-known novel “Start with Why” – companies that deliver the ‘why’ of their products end up being more successful than competitors. Adult learners want to know the WIFM (what’s in it for me) from the get-go of the session – why they are taking time out of their day to listen to you? Why is this information important? How is it relevant to their job and what benefit can they collect from it? When you begin your session with a powerful reason why they should listen and weave the ‘why’ throughout the training, people will perk up.

 

2.  Be Authentic

 

If you aren’t funny, don’t try to be. If you aren’t bubbly, don’t pretend to be. Just be you! People will detect if you are faking it or if you are being authentic within a few seconds of speaking. Find your style and own it. If you have a passion for or personal connection to the topic, let it shine through in stories and examples. If your points are interesting and help reach the objective, participants’ natural curiosity is piqued and they want to learn more.

 

3.  Choose Your Angle

 

Imagine an attorney in a courtroom presenting their case to a jury. The attorney determines the outcome they desire and works backward to decide the best angle that connects with the jurors. You play the same role as the attorney in the adult learning setting. Knowing your audience and their necessary takeaways help you choose the angle to take when presenting. If your training goal is to explain the standard protocol for infectious diseases in a hospital to a group of HR professionals, decide ahead of time what information and approach is most vital for them to connect with the material.

 

4.  Hook the Audience

 

No one likes to be ‘talked at’ rather a discussion is more impactful. Creating an environment where people have a conversation around the material is setting up yourself and participants for success. As the trainer, your role is to facilitate a framework for structured discussion around the subject. You can do this by asking well-planned, direct questions that lead to the objectives. Doing so allows trainees to inform you on their level of knowledge of the content and feel part of the session instead of an observer. Also, storytelling brings the topic alive and can elicit emotions in people. If you don’t have a connection or personal experience that relates to the subject, borrow one from a book, podcast, or article.

 

5.  Consider the Design

 

Not all trainings have to be death by PowerPoint. With a little instructional design knowledge, you can transform your dull content into impactful learning. Consider chunking complex topics in manageable sections and inserting a live polling application like Poll Everywhere to quiz people on what they’ve learned so far or give them a platform to ask questions. When there are numerous  policies and procedures to review, turn it into a treasure hunt where participants are impelled to read through material to solve a puzzle. Use images that relay the point more than words or text. Know when to incorporate ‘active learning’ appropriately. If moving around the room, using sticky notes, or flip charts guides learners to the objective then use movement but if people need a break, let them take a break.

 

Continue discovering and incorporating tools and techniques in your training to bring dull content to life. Many organizations are currently focused on building and implementing new anti-harassment programs which are important and can be complex. Consider how to leverage tools and resources that spark creativity and engagement into topics for a valuable, training experience.

 

*This article was originally published by Training Industry, Inc. You can read the original article by clicking here: Training Industry, Inc. 

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