We can all relate to the constant chatter and distractions we encounter in our daily lives. One of those necessary distractions that has out-smarted us all, is our smart phone! Just like the American Express commercial says, “Don’t leave home without it.” And we see how everyone is forever connected to their phones.
So much so, that we need constant reminders to turn them off—when we’re at the movies or theater, when we’re driving and, yes, even when we’re in the classroom. On one hand, we appreciate how smart phones have contributed to our ability to stay connected and, on the other hand, we have concerns that they are limiting our ability to create interpersonal connections.
This is an issue that frequently comes up as a “hot topic” during my training sessions. Participants have shared with me that their learners’ use of phones during their training has been challenging and extremely frustrating. Yes, we live in a world that pushes us to multi-task; however, during training we want to minimize those distractions as much as possible.
The following are five tips that I’ve used to minimize smart phones as a distraction when I’m delivering a training session:
1. Housekeeping: Since smart phones are an integral part of our daily lives, it’s important to deal with them at the start of your training sessions when you’re covering housekeeping details. As the course leader, it’s important you communicate your expectations for the participant’s behavior and, more importantly, that you ask them how they would like to deal with distractions. Most times they’ll agree to put their phones on vibrate and to leave the room for important calls or emails. I find adding some humor helps to take the pressure off and is much appreciated by adult learners.
2. More “Do” Time = Less Talk Time: I like the phrase, “Telling Ain’t Training!” If there’s a lot of content to get through in your course, then incorporate more interactivity by using a variety of methods like lecturettes, demonstrations or brainstorming. More hands-on practice and less lecture gives your learners a chance to apply what they’re learning and get feedback on it. It also lessens the time for them to get distracted by technology.
3. Relevance: Most of you have likely heard the acronym called “WIIFM” or “What’s In It For Me?” By making sure the content you’re presenting is relevant to your learners, you guarantee they’ll be more engaged in the training, and will see how the learning experience will benefit them back on the job.
4. Delivery: As trainers, we’re often required to cover a lot of content in our training sessions, and sometimes our material can be dry or less than interesting. That’s where having solid instructional techniques in your trainer’s toolkit can make it so much easier to get through a long day. By incorporating brainteasers, ice-breakers, music and humor into your training you can transform it from boring to brilliant!
5. Breaks: It’s important to provide your learners with frequent, short breaks throughout the day to help keep them fresh and involved in the training. These breaks give them time to quickly check their emails and social media, have a stretch, etc., while helping you hold their focus once they’re back from the breaks.
By incorporating these instructional techniques into your courses, you’ll limit distractions among your learners and encourage a deeper connection to the course content, to fellow participants, and to you as the course leader. Let’s work towards reinforcing and keeping those personal connections alive and meaningful!
Learn even more instructional techniques, as well as how to become a dynamic instructor, masterful facilitator, and polished speaker in Langevin’s Certified Instructor/Facilitator program.
In the meantime, I'd love to hear about your classroom experiences in the comments section!