If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that we want to engage learners. Whether that be constituents, colleagues, our specific teams, or other organizations, we want to create content, share it, and have as many people as possible learn from it. For ourselves, we want information to be interesting. We want it to be customized to only what we need to know and delivered in our preferred way. Unfortunately, all of this is easier said than done.
At the Elliott Masie Learning 2014 Conference, I learned a new “rule”: 70%, 20%, 100%. We retain approximately 70% of the information presented to us in the very beginning of a training. We retain 100% of content said at the end (think how valuable the words “in conclusion” are). However, we only remember 20% of what is said in the middle. So how do we overcome this? How can we make our trainings and presentations more engaging?
Lucky for me, the conference was chock-full of tips. Here are nine:
Think like a camp counselor- Camp counselors have to entertain small children for upwards of eight hours per day. To do this, they must think of outside the box, fun activities that will keep them busy. The same is true for learners. Regardless of what type of presentation you are giving, think of new ways to keep people’s attention. If you’re in person, try funny icebreakers (make a jingle?) or get them up and moving. Online? Try polls (polleverywhere.com is simple), cool images and short video clips. Whatever it is try to keep it fun.
Get them talking and think viral – Think about the last conference or department meeting you attended. You probably sat down at the table, looked around for a few seconds, and then whipped out your phone/tablet/computer. As a trainer, it’s hard to get people talking with each other when it’s not mandated– but this is often when the best collaboration happens. To overcome this, try thumballs! Thumballs are an easy (and relatively fun way) to get the conversation going. While you’re at it — think viral. What’s going to make the biggest splash and spark conversation following the presentation?
Create resources 1 to 2 clicks away- Want people to read your content? Participate in gamification-type activities? Take a survey? Don’t make them click around. The easier it is to find content or participate in a certain activity, the more successful your activity will be.
Take it out of the office– Getting out of the office for a quick walk or change of scenery, if for only 5-10 minutes, is a great way to engage people, get them talking, and most importantly, get them thinking differently. At the 2014 Learning Conference, they arranged “meet ups.” 30 minute sessions of 4-6 people who would walk around the hotel (it was sunny Florida, after all) and chat about a certain topic. It was an organic, relaxed conversation that was more about collaboration and best practice sharing than completing a task– and it was effective!
It’s work, not pre-work- How do you get people to do work in advance of a training? Or read material prior to your presentation or meeting? Don’t call it “pre-work,” because it is not — it’s actual work that needs to be done in order for effective learning. Calling it work makes it sounds mandatory, not optional.
What’s the point?- Learners want to know “why?” Why are they listening to this hour long training? What should the main takeaways be from the presentation? By knowing and defining your objectives upfront it will help set expectations. As I said upfront, we remember 70% of what we learn at the beginning of a presentation. Define your objectives early and stick to them.
Slow and steady wins the race- To encourage engagement you need to start slowly. Nobody wants to be put on the spot, or asked difficult questions, two minutes into a presentation. Instead, start with the easy, low transparency questions and build your way up to the more thoughtful questions. This will encourage active participation in a non-threatening way and get people collaborating and thinking it’s not so bad to participate.
Expectations vs. Reality- Were the objectives you originally laid out met? Feedback, whether through evaluations, one-on-one conversations, or reviews, are essential to understanding if what was supposed to happen actually did. Gathering feedback
Know your motivation- What motivates you to do your job? As a trainer or leader, do you know what motivates your employees to be better? Understanding this can help you reach your learners and personalize the learning more effectively. Try taking the Values in Action quiz to learn if it’s development, financial, a calling or something else that motivates you.
What would you add to the list?