1. Solicit Employee Input. Get preliminary employee input and feedback before the training begins. Find out what they would like to get out of the learning, and what will make it interesting for them. Then customize the training content to meet not only the needs of the organization, but also those of its participants.
2. Integrate Icebreakers. To get everyone’s creative juices flowing, start the training session with a brief icebreaker that is relevant to the content that will be covered. The resource book, Games Trainers Play, includes hundreds of icebreaker ideas to choose from.
3. Incorporate Storytelling. Use real life stories and examples to bring specific points to life. An example might be that if you are facilitating a workshop on Problem Resolution and Empowerment, use personal stories that illustrate a time when you received poor service and how it was resolved. You could even share personal examples of situations when you either felt empowered or disempowered to resolve an issue, citing specifically who, what, where, and how you overcame the situation with professionalism and finesse.
4. Encourage Participant Involvement. Engage participants throughout the learning process with open-ended questions, allowing them ample time to respond. We all learn when everyone participates. It demonstrates that you (as a facilitator) are on top of your game, comfortable sharing the spotlight with workshop participants, and that everyone is accountable for making the learning energizing, inspiring, informative, fun, and memorable.
5. Use Visual Aids. When possible, incorporating PowerPoint presentations with relevant pictures are a great way to stimulate the learning process. Also, proper use of a flip chart to jot down participant responses to illustrate or make a point adds variety to the learning process.
6. Use Humor. Injecting funny stories that relate to the points you are making during the training are a great way to keep people engaged and help them remember critical tips on things you want them to consistently do or not do. Just make sure to keep all humor – jokes and funny stories strictly professional and in good taste.
7. Discuss Life Application. End training sessions by having participants share how they will apply what they have learned. This will encourage self-reflection, self-accountability, and is likely to motivate participants to use the tools, skills, and knowledge gained.
8. Give Away Prizes. You would be surprised how effective small give-aways (like candy bars, movie tickets, or even books) are in engaging participants and stimulating enthusiasm in learning. And we all know that when participants are engaged, they retain and apply a great deal of what they have learned.
9. Incorporate Testing. Give a brief quiz at the end of the training session to ensure retention of vital information. When participants believe they will be tested on the information shared, they are more apt to retain and later utilize what they have learned.
10. Follow-Up. Inform participants that you will be following up on their progress, and then do so to heighten self-accountability. Learning and development professionals who routinely follow-up with their participants are more successful in creating an environment where employees feel compelled to implement what they have learned.
Bottom-line, the key to creating training that sticks is engaging the learner in the process from start to finish. It is up to the training facilitator to ensure the learning sticks. Therefore, they should build sustainability mechanisms into the training content and session. If you are a senior leader, make it a priority to let your learning professional know that you will be following-up with them and expecting them to create a learning environment that will create sustainable change. Anything less is unacceptable.
Theo Gilbert-Jamison is CEO of Performance Solutions by Design, a global performance consulting firm that caters to luxury and premium brands with an emphasis on transforming organizational culture. She is also the author of two books, The Six Principles of Service Excellence (2005), and The Leadership Book of Numbers, Volume I (2008). As the creative force behind Performance Solutions by Design, Theo is a highly sought after speaker and consultant to CEOs and senior executives in high profile organizations.