When designing your training plan you must also keep in mind the objectives you wish to fulfill at the beginning of the session. Either if it’s a BANG, a team-building exercise, a group assessment or goal setting, always keep in mind your audience and their specific characteristics. The way you open a presentation will set the tone of your course. Specifically, keep in mind:
1. Level of threat: How well do you know your audience? Will they be open to new exercises and ideas or will they be hesitant and reserved as you begin your presentation? Be aware of your opening exercise so that it does not expose your participants’ lack of knowledge or skills; be prone to engage them in an activity that encourages opinions on a familiar subject in order to create a relaxed environment.
2. Group Characteristics: Would you use the same type of activity for an audience of managers as for an audience of students? Presumably your answer is no, therefore adjust the level of the exercise to the type of audience you are delivering for.
3. Connection to content: The conclusion of your chosen activity should be related to the rest of your training. By tying an icebreaker to the content of your training, you are creating a transition stage that will help the audience smooth into the subject.
Even after you have created an amazing opening for your presentation, group attention or understanding may disappear in a moment’s notice, therefore we shall present 8 methods to keep the participants engaged and transform a usual training into an active one.
1. Sharing: Pose an open question and ask the participants to feel free to share any opinions. You should ask this type of questions when you are sure the audience wants to be involved. Control the sharing period by stating “I would like to get 4 or 5 opinions….”
2. Anonymous answers: Pass index cards around the audience and ask them to write the answer/s on the card without having to write down their names. The anonymity of the cards will offer you truthful opinions and it also saves times for the conciseness of the cards.
3. Questionnaires: Create a brief questionnaire that can be answered easily and can be verified fast. Sharing the results of the questionnaires during the training will be extremely appealing for the participants.
4. Buddy system: Ask participants to group in 2’s in order to answer certain questions/questionnaires. This system is efficient in creating a collaborative environment but time to create bigger groups is not enough.
5. Whips: Move around the audience and obtain short answers to key questions. The questions posed through this method should offer multiple answers, for example: A leader’s main skill is ….. Ask the audience to offer different answers, personal opinions and not repeat the past responses.
6. Panel: invite in front of the audience a small group of representatives to share their views on a certain matter. If time allows it, rotate the members of the panel so as many participants as possible, you may offer their insight.
7. Fishbowl: Select a part of the audience to form a circle and begin discussing the requested subject, as the rest of the audience listens from outside the circle. Shift people from the outer circle into the discussion circle to keep the discussion going and offer new perspectives.
8. Games: the variety of games, from icebreakers, to puzzles, quizzes or team challenge can help challenge your participants’ knowledge and ideas, bringing forth a key message of the training.
What other methods do you use to energize your training session?