Since launching Infinity Consulting and Training Solutions in January 2007, I’ve facilitated leadership courses in over 21 countries personally enhancing the knowledge and skills of over 5,500 managers and leaders at all levels. At a time when leaders have limited time and increasing pressure to deliver results, they often come to leadership training distracted, disengaged, and disinterested. We’ve consistently been able to turn their dread into delight. What’s our secret? Our programs specifically target our clients’ biggest challenges and every program is highly engaging and very interactive. We developed the ultimate facilitation checklist, and you can use the items below that are from our checklist to ensure you exceed your client’s expectations every time.
Use Content that is Engaging
Too often, training content includes cartoonish clip art. Boring. And honestly, it’s still shocking to see PowerPoint slides packed with lots of text and very little white space. There are a variety of ways to make content engaging, some of which we will mention below. The point is, adults require engagement as part of their learning experience so be sure to make the content interactive with compelling calls to action to apply what has been taught.
Tip: Use high quality images to stimulate your audiences. Fotolia is an excellent source of images, and Flickr’s Creative Commons section offers high quality images for free as long as proper attribution is cited.
Use Experiential Exercises
The head of global training at a Fortune 5 company we work with recently stated that he wishes his trainers could engage audiences the way we do. The hallmark of every one of our programs is the “games” we use to expose skills gaps and provide solutions to those gaps. It’s not about the game. It’s all about the experience created by our facilitators because anybody can play games but it takes an expert to create an experience that causes people to actually commit to fixing the undesirable behavior that was just exposed.
Tip: The questions asked during the experiential exercises are the key to success. We teach trainers and speakers how to effectively facilitate experientials for any size audience. Visit our website to see me in action.
Use Interactive Stories
Think of your favorite movie. It tapped your emotions by stimulating a variety of your senses. I still tear up at the end of Charlotte’s Web. I digress. Stories are the foundation of an organization’s culture, and well told stories that engage training participants automatically make training programs memorable. I could cite statistics about workplace safety or I could tell you the story of my dad’s accident that left him emotionally broken and physically disabled when I was only 3 years old. Grown men have been known to cry after hearing my dad’s story because they identify with him while thinking of their own kids. They become part of the story, which is the reason I tell it.
Tip: Great storytellers always do 3 things, and you should do them too. 1) Tell stories that everyone in your audience can relate to. 2) Make sure to vary the senses that are stimulated throughout the story. 3) Have a call to action at the end.
Ask Open Ended Questions
How can you tell the difference between a trainer and a facilitator? By the questions asked. Trainers lecture and ask mostly closed ended questions. Great facilitators create discovery and learning by expertly asking mostly open-ended questions. Ask the right questions, improve your results. It’s really that simple.
Tip: Asking closed ended questions is destroying profitability. Read this article to find out how and what to do to stop the destruction.
Facilitate, Don’t Lecture
Too many training professionals lecture because their focus is on content and not on creating learning by connecting the content to the attendees past work and life experiences. The telltale sign of lecturing: Talking for more than 2 minutes without asking a provocative or evocative question. When you see someone lecturing, stop them because they are boring the hell out of the participants and causing huge levels of disengagement in the class.
Tip: People rise to the expectations that are set. Set the expectation that all training and speaking events will be interactive, and one measure of interactivity is the evidence of ongoing dialogue.
Use Appropriate Humor
Whether it comes out naturally from your facilitators or if it is manufactured using funny videos, make it a point to use humor. An expert facilitator knows how to work a crowd and create an engaging environment while doing it. I’ve seen some experts use humor as often as every 4 – 7 minutes. Whatever you do, include humor as part of your facilitation and course design. Your participants will reward you for it with positive referrals and recommendations.
Tip: Email me for tips on using humor. Use Twitter to follow people who post humorous tweets. Find funny videos on YouTube. Ask your local chapters of the National Speaker’s Association or American Society for Training and Development for resources on humor. There are tons of resources available if you know where to look.
Creating an engaging and interactive training experience requires strong facilitation skills, a high degree of understanding of the client, and a commitment to excellence. By using this checklist, you can ensure your facilitators are creating an experience that exceeds your customers’ expectations every time.
Want more tips and strategies on creating very engaging training experiences? We teach facilitation techniques to people who have to deliver presentations, and we’ve coached trainers at Chevron and Intertek Consulting and Training among others. Contact us today for more information on bringing us in to work with your staff. And you can always find great tips by visiting our website at www.ictscorp.com, subscribing to this blog, and following me on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook).