Nov 06 2017
Kati Ryan
7 Minutes to read

It’s a Buzzfeed-reading, Instagram-scrolling, Giphy-injected world out there. So that means as an L&D professional you have to step up your game and match your programs to the ever-distracted learner. But how can you keep on task with your scheduled trainings and still keep everyone’s attention? Here are 5 ways you can inject engaging training activities into your learning design. They will surprise and delight your trainees, while still accomplishing your overall session goals.

1) Set Up Your Room for Fun

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. When your trainees walk into the room, make sure they understand what they’re about to be in for. Place all the items for your games on the table. Play music. Run a slideshow of previous training classes on the projector to show them what’s coming. If you set this tone right out of the gate, your learners walk in and immediately know it will be a good use of their time. And, it adds a sense of excitement in the room to get started.

When your trainees walk into the room, make sure they understand what they’re about to be in for. Click To Tweet

2) Map Activities Back to a Learning Objective

Sure, playing games for the sake of playing games can be fun. But with limited time with your captivated audience, it’s important to make sure your training activities always map back to a given learning objective. For example, playing a game like “Name that Tune” might wake people up. But that’s all it does. Instead try asking them to rewrite a pop song with lyrics that explain a complex concept from the training. When they’re done you can pass the lyrics around the room and have everyone sing along.

For example, if your training is focused on building a digital marketing strategy, you might ask your trainees to recreate a Rihanna song with lyrics about search engine optimization and pay-per-click ads. Using this method, they are working together on a fun and unique task and checking for comprehensive understanding. Everyone in the class benefits from it in the end.

“They’ll Find Your Business” – By the Training Class, inspired by Rihanna

Shine your business in the light

They search and find you side by side

Right down the page and to the right

Work with us, we’ll be your guide

The way it works, we just can’t deny

And we’ve gotta let you know

They’ll find your business on the page

The Search Engine Results Page

They’ll find your business on the page

The Search Engine Results Page

Get them to find you and through the doors

SEO, PPC both will be supplied

Conversions pouring to your online store

On and offsite optimization will be applied

The way it works, we just can’t deny

And we’ve gotta let you know

They’ll find your business on the page

The Search Engine Results Page

They’ll find your business on the page

The Search Engine Results Page

Shine your business in the light

They search and find you side by side

Right down the page and to the right

Work with us, we’ll be your guide

[REPEAT]

3) Create a Leaderboard and Calculate Points

Create a leaderboard to engage training attendees in friendly competition

Throughout the duration of your session, create a leaderboard of teams or individuals (depending on the classroom size), and allow them to accumulate points and win prizes. Prizes can scale in size and can include gift cards, company swag, a PTO day, candy, or lunch with a VP. Consider adding points when people come back early from breaks, incentivizing them to always be early in your classroom. Other ways to earn points include nailing the answer to a question, winning a game, or acing a pop quiz. Get creative. The key to is to be consistent in the distribution of points. If they are engaged and doing good work, reward them accordingly. Some friendly competition can be a good motivator for mastering the learning objectives.

4) Strategically Weave Activities Into Your Agenda

If you want to build engaging training activities into your daily agenda, consider the time of day. Different activities resonate more at different times of day.

  • In The Morning: It should be no surprise that if you are conducting a multi-day training workshop,  you should start with a fun icebreaker. You’ll make connections and begin with an energetic tone. But don’t start with the normal name, department, etc. Shake it up a bit. Consider a “networking bingo” board. Or ask them to share a specific fact. The last concert they attended or a favorite hobby outside of work are great icebreakers. On subsequent days, kick off with a knowledge check of the previous day’s core concepts, to ensure retention. Keep it fun by quizzing them Jeopardy-style, complete with a board you can easily build in Powerpoint.
  • After Lunch: According to CNN, the scientific name for a food coma is “postprandial somnolence.” The name alone is overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to start off right when your learners come back from lunch. You can reset the tone by injecting a high-energy game, reviewing concepts from the morning, teasing what comes next, or even injecting a culture-building activity. Spend 15 to 20 minutes getting back into it, and it will be time well spent, when your group is awake and alert for the afternoon.
  • After Explaining a Complex Concept: To make sure your group is retaining a complex topic, weave a game into the design to check for understanding. Tie the game directly back to what they need to take away and know. Say they just learned how to use a new tool, strategically design a scavenger hunt in the tool and time them based on completion of tasks and accuracy. Keep the training activity light and fun. That way it won’t feel like a test.

5) Inject Modern Games Throughout

Pay attention to the games your kids and friends are playing. Or maybe they’re still some of your own favorites. Board games have many creative applications, so think carefully about how they can be woven into you training environment. Here are a few examples and how you can use them.

  • Heads Up: Customize a deck for your given topic to see if they understand the concept well enough to have each other guess the term.
  • Jenga: Create tailored pieces that are fun and educational. As they pull out a block, they have to complete a task as they play.
  • Pictionary: Bring a jar of words applicable to the learnings. Split the room into teams. And then have one team member choose a term and draw it for their team.
  • Meme Creator: Using an online meme generator, ask your attendees to create an applicable meme for what they just learned. Share them with the group and vote on the most appropriate, most hilarious, or whatever works for your group.

Are you looking for more training trips?

Click here

Written by:

Kati Ryan

Kati Ryan has built and led award-winning training teams and programs for the past eight years, overseeing teams of trainers responsible for classroom and in-field training, as well as career development of thousands of employees. Kati is a professionally trained and engaging public speaker and subject matter expert. She has spoken at the ATD International Convention, ALI’s Employee Experience Summit, spoken on several industry roundtables, contributed content to publications such as ATD’s L&D Blog, #GirlBoss, Building the Sales Machine Blog, and been quoted in Fast Company on effective team building practices.

Posted in: In the IndustryTraining

Tagged with: Training Engagement, Training Program Development