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Chatting with Learners before Training

Posted by Alan Magnan on 8/31/15 4:00 AM
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Some learners like to show up early for training. I’ve had people walk in the room 30 minutes before the course starts. In the time between the first arrival and the start of the course you have a chance to set the tone. If you haven’t prepared for it, this time can end up with “dead air,” that dreaded silence that can make people uncomfortable. That’s not how you want your learners to feel before the training has started.

 

Besides the weather and what’s in the news, here are a few ways to keep the conversation going and improve the climate for your training.

  1. Common Ground

Nothing puts people more at ease than being among compatriots. Consider any hobbies, work duties, or other personal details you have in common. Ask how that’s going. Ask about any new developments in that area of their life. Even better, ask for their opinion on a facet of the area you have in common.

  1. Their Interests

If you don’t have any common interests, then just ask about theirs. This works when you don’t know the person, or you have nothing in common. Some popular areas to cover are: movies, food, outdoor activities, hobbies, clothes/fashion, travel, family, or friends.

  1. Their Work

Most people spend half their waking hours at work on weekdays. That makes fertile conversation ground. Ask about new developments in their field. Inquire about things going well. See what challenges they face. Find out what they like most (or least) about their job.

  1. The Current Course

To really up your game, make a transition from the previous topic (their work) to this one. You can ask what they’ve heard about the course. Find out if they have any questions about the content or the logistics. See which parts of their job they feel the training should cover. Maybe even build up anticipation about the most relevant or enjoyable parts of the course.


You may have prepared for your course delivery very well. But if you didn’t prepare for the few minutes of social interaction beforehand, your learners may not feel the same way. Strive to make your participants comfortable before the course starts. It will stack the odds in favor of them feeling good throughout your training.



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Alan has been a course leader with Langevin since 1996. He studied business administration at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology. Alan’s philosophy on training is that it can be fun, engaging, and active, but that’s just what’s on the surface. Training must also be practical, realistic, and applicable. Alan is a computer geek at heart and enjoys programming and gaming in his spare time. He’s also a great fan of the outdoors during the summer months, and when the winter moves in, you’ll find him reading, or recording and playing music.

Topics: instructional techniques, virtual trainer

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