Five Ways To Keep Participants Focused

What do you dread most about conducting training classes?

Is it the preparation? Is it scheduling a time that’s convenient? Is it wondering whether or not you look foolish or sound ignorant or both? For many people whose job duties include conducting effective training sessions, their biggest fear is wondering whether participants are more focused on the syllabus or on what they plan to do once the class is over!

If participants are attentive and interested, you’ve got a better chance of achieving the goals you’ve identified for your training program. If participants aren’t tuning in, all you’re really doing is wasting time and throwing away learning opportunities.

If the training sessions you’ve been holding lately have become a time for co-workers to talk about anything and everything except what’s on the syllabus, you’re giving participants time off with pay! Don’t agree? Well they’re being paid for the time spent in those classes, right? And they’re not emerging with much newfound knowledge, right?

If those two points are difficult to argue, it’s time to ask, “How much longer can my business afford to fund these unproductive gatherings?”

With some effort your training classes can be more effective. Here are 5 ways you can improve your skills as a training class facilitator.

1. Be Prepared

The more prepared you are, the better the chances of holding effective training classes. In fact preparing is crucial to their success. Remember that preparation goes way beyond putting together a syllabus. A syllabus is important for keeping training on track, but for each item, you’ve got to show up knowing what you’ll talk about. It’s rarely possible to be “too prepared” but if you show up unprepared, participants will always know it.

2. Be Confident

When you stand before a group you automatically are perceived as the expert. So act that way. The best way to accomplish this is by oozing confidence. Always remember that you need to believe in yourself before you can expect others to believe in you. This is true whether you’re facilitating a training class or making a sales pitch or asking someone for a date. If you’re confident you can “sell” anything, even your expertise. One easy way to “pull it off” as the expert in the room is to follow the advice above – be prepared.

3. Be Truthful

Nothing is worse than listening to someone who claims to be an expert stammering over his words, making things up or bending the truth in an effort to appear knowledgeable. People can see through this type of behavior so don’t do it. Instead, if you’re asked something you don’t know, admit you don’t know the answer. If possible, suggest where the person might go to find the answer. Or promise to follow-up with the answer and then remember to do so.

4. Be Approachable

Never come across as being arrogant and never “talk down” to participants. If you do, you might have a hard time delivering your instruction.

5. Be In Control

No matter what type of training session you hold, there will be times when you’ll encounter the participant who has a comment or a question about everything you say and do. If you let this person take control you’ll lose control. When you encounter such a person, politely suggest that the two of you get together after the meeting. Otherwise, the meeting risks running into serious overtime. Plus other participants will definitely lose interest.

If you have difficulty with these 5 sure fire ways to keep participants focused while conducting training classes don’t give up hope. Remember, you can always hire an experienced training class facilitator!

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