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5 Instructional Techniques for Maintaining Learner Focus

Posted by Lynne Koltookian on 9/3/14 4:00 AM
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I saw a television commercial the other day advertising an energy drink. The commercial claimed the drink will help you focus so you can achieve your goals in life. How funny! All this time I thought ambition, drive, dedication, and hard work helps you achieve your goals in life. Now I can forget all of those things and just drink more caffeine! The TV commercial is right about one thing though. It shows how important mental concentration and focus are to achieving anything.


Mental focus is important in the classroom too, whether it is instructor-led or in the virtual classroom. If you are an instructor you know how challenging it can be to control your learners’ focus and attention. There are so many potential distractions that can interfere with learning. Work conflicts, family issues, childcare emergencies, and smartphone problems are just a few examples.


How are we trainers supposed to compete with all of these things and still ensure our employees leave our classrooms with the knowledge and skill they need to succeed on the job? We apply instructional techniques to control their focus and attention, that’s how! In our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop we talk about these tips. They really work and I want to share some of them with you:

1. When you want to focus the class on you, rather than on your slides or audio visual aids, blacken the screen or cover your flipchart items.

2. When you want to help learners focus on your flipchart or white board information, stand to the left of the chart or white board. This way, after they focus on you, they can then easily scan your data from left to right.

3. When you want to stop sidebar conversations, move near the offending participants and continue delivering your content. The other participants will then focus not only on you but on the chatting learners as well, making the chatters self-conscious and hopefully stopping their conversation.

4. When you want the learners to have the limelight, sit down and have them stand up to strut their stuff!

5. When you teach in the virtual classroom, call on people by name to keep them engaged and focused on your session. (Want to learn more about virtual training? Visit the Langevin website and consider attending our new course, The Virtual Trainer.)


You can control the focus and attention of your participants just by employing these simple, yet effective instructional techniques! How do you keep your learners focused?


Dealing with Difficult Participants

Lynne has been a course leader with Langevin since 2007. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Education from Boston University. After working many years in human resources and sales, Lynne transitioned into training, her true passion, where she’s been facilitating since 1994. Her training philosophy is simple—learning should be fun! The essence of a good instructor is someone who can make complex things easy to understand and fun to learn. In her free time, you’ll find Lynne cycling, hiking, downhill skiing, and scuba diving.

Tags: instructional techniques, virtual classroom

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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