Engaging training: 11 tips to energize your audience
Run a training session that matters. Discover the latest techniques and technologies to help you make your next corporate training session more engaging.
Continuing education is the ultimate workplace win-win. Employees want opportunities to continue their personal and professional development while companies want to build and retain high-functioning teams. This puts training professionals in an exciting position. And yet, the mental image of a corporate training session is often one of a boring meeting with stale coffee.
Whether your workshop’s being run virtually or in a boardroom, there’s no need for it to be boring. In fact, it needs to not be boring.
This article will explain how to make training more engaging and answer common questions like:
- Why should training be engaging?
- How do you create engaging training content?
- How do you offer engaging training?
Why should training be engaging?
If it’s not engaging, people won’t participate or internalize the learnings. No matter how informative it is, the information will go in one ear and out the other. The relationship between learner engagement and performance is scientific; Stanford research has found that learner engagement is actually a strong indicator of learning performance. Furthermore, highly engaged learners usually become deeply engaged employees.
As a trainer, much of your work is measured through attendee feedback. Getting great scores can lead to more workshops and training sessions. Every piece of your program presents an opportunity to create a memorable learning experience that will help build your business.
How do you create engaging training content?
The first step to engaging training starts well before the session itself. Relying on shoddy Word docs or boring PDFs simply won’t do, especially as we continue to see the transition to virtual learning. Crafting thoughtful training materials using interactive digital workbooks will not only keep your attendees from checking out, it’ll help you structure your sessions.
1. Customize content to your audience
When it comes to corporate training, whether it’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training, cognitive bias workshops, or corporate sales training, no two attendees are identical.
For example, when running a DEI workshop, it’d be important to remember that managers have different responsibilities when it comes to creating a safe and equitable workplace, and that should be reflected in the training materials they receive.
Another way to easily personalize your content is to keep it contextual. Consider including case studies and examples from within the company or industry. Wobo’s digital workbooks make it easy to link to case studies or include images and infographics that are specific to your client’s team or industry.
2. Make sure your content flows logically
When preparing your learning materials, make sure it flows. It may seem easier to do an information dump, but what’s easy for you to type is almost certainly not the best way for people to learn.
Start by clearly defining the learning objectives, then use those points to guide the framework. Clear cover pages in Wobo digital workbooks let you set session-specific goals and set the tone.
3. Create visually appealing material
There’s no excuse for bland documents or pesky PDFs. Especially not if you want your content to stick. Your topic isn’t boring, so why should your materials be?
Your learning materials are a great opportunity to create an experience around your own brand, too. Using Wobo’s extensive and customizable templates, you can easily create and distribute visually appealing, branded workbooks that will elevate your learners’ interest and expectations.
4. Engage through empowering your learners
As you bid adieu to your boring PDFs, consider an online workbook that empowers your learners. Instead, use a tool that engages and encourages.
With a digital workbook tool like Wobo, you can play with layouts, interactions and the type of content you make available to your learners, like radio buttons, sliders, infographics, and fillable text areas. Wobo also helps you make the information easy to revisit to continue the learning. Unlike survey tools, submissions, and convoluted email threads, Wobo allows learners to pick up where they left off, revisiting material on demand and exploring supplemental resources, keeping the learning party going long after the course has ended. Having visibility into your learner’s work also helps you provide better feedback and support to your learners.
5. Incorporate interactivity
‘Interactive’ does not mean interrogative. This is not a call to add more questions. Long form responses absolutely have their place, but that doesn’t mean they should dominate your workbook.
Mixing up response types helps reduce the amount of work a learner has to do to respond to a question. Instead of static text blocks, leverage online workbook interaction features like ranking questions, checkboxes, sliders, drop down lists and more to allow for quick interactions and pulse checks. It’s also important to mix things up with video and responses. This gives learners the opportunity to answer questions while the content is fresh in their mind. With Wobo you can break up the workbook and embed it into different parts of your course while still allowing one clean and simple download at the end of training.
6. The KISS rule applies
Keep it simple, silly.. When text gets too long it can be a blur for learners, especially if they’re expected to digest it in long training sessions. There’s a reason TED talks are limited to 18 minutes; it’s to keep it concise while delving into their topic.
Keep your writing short and sweet, and try to stick to short sections followed by quick exercises or reflection questions. Separate your information by nice to know and need to know. Include only the content that is most relevant and integral to achieving those north star learning objectives, then link out to the nice to know information with your supplemental resources.
If this is your first course and you don’t have student feedback to work from yet, try this exercise: if a given exercise will take longer than 18 minutes, break it up into smaller lessons. With Wobo, you can group exercises into modules which can be embedded throughout a course to keep it bite-sized.
How do you offer engaging training?
Now that you’re prepared with engaging course materials, how do you actually run an engaging training session?
7. Kick employee training off with an icebreaker
Icebreakers are a great way to relieve tension and set the tone for the session. This can be especially helpful if your topic is relatively heavy or simply uncharted territory for your learners.
Icebreakers for in-person sessions might include something as simple as sharing a fun fact or asking people to stand up if they match a certain cue. Online sessions can make use of the different features in their video conferencing tool like ‘raise hand’ or emoji reactions.
8. Establish a safe space
Depending on the type of workshop or training session you’re running, attendees may get more out of the session or engage with the learning in a deeper way if they open up and share about themselves. In a DEI workshop for example, you may want to encourage employees to get vulnerable. That means you need to create a safe space and assure them that things will remain private, both in their self-reflection and conversations. Wobo workbooks are a great option for encouraging honesty and reflection as they ensure privacy between the learner and the facilitator.
9. Make it matter
In the immortal words of Simon Sinek, ‘start with why.’ Why is this training session happening and why does it matter? Finding meaning in new information helps learners not only connect with the content, but it also helps them grasp the knowledge more intuitively. And when you’re teaching something as impactful as DEI, safety and culture orientation, or providing coaching services, it’s vital that your learners feel connected to the content.
10 Don’t make it feel like a test
When they’re engaging in professional development initiatives, nobody wants to feel like they’ve been transported back to high school. This is especially true for adult learners in a professional setting.
Move beyond reductive ‘right or wrong’ quizzes and focus on asking open ended questions that dig deeper into the learning material and help your learners apply the concepts to real life scenarios.
11. Encourage attendee dialogue and self reflection
According to research, a huge barrier to training engagement is the lack of social interaction and honest conversation about the usefulness of course materials. Group feedback and discussion conversation is stimulating and can drive home much of the material.
Incorporate discussions and check-ins at the end of each training module. Ask attendees to summarize the knowledge or the activity they just covered in their own words. In addition to keeping everyone engaged and in the moment, reflection questions incorporated throughout the workbook will also help make sure that the information is being understood.
Kickstart your corporate training sessions
Engaging courses and training sessions start with engaging course materials. Explore our templates and see how Wobo’s digital workbooks can take your learning and development initiatives from ennui to engaging.