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How to Build Rapport with Your Learners

Posted by Marsha Weisleder on 6/27/16 8:00 AM
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I’m sure many of you have heard the expression, “Without customers there is no business.” It’s no secret that customers are a company’s greatest asset and it costs a lot more to get a new customer than retain a current one. So what does that have to do with us trainers? Well, let’s face it, our learners are our customers and without them we wouldn’t be in business.


It’s also a well-known fact that strong customer relationships drive sales. Have you ever walked into a store to buy something but left because of the salesperson’s behavior? It’s happened to me numerous times. The salesperson was more interested in her phone than helping me out. Well, that’s a turn off. On the other hand, the stronger the relationship, the longer the customer will do business with you. So, my fellow trainers, what kind of relationship do you have with your learners? How can you improve the quality of that relationship?


In our Marketing Your Training Internally workshop we discuss the importance of relationships. That’s right. Why would learners “buy” your service with their time (and money) if they don’t have a strong and meaningful relationship with you? Don’t fret! Here are some tips to build rapport before, during, and after the course:


Before the Course

  • Publicize an easy-to-use registration system.
  • Phone, email, or meet learners individually.
  • Send out a pre-course survey to find out what issues learners wish to address.
  • Send a welcome letter to each participant.
  • Send a letter to each participant’s supervisor.


During the Course

  • Create a safe and welcoming environment to reduce or eliminate the doubts, concerns, and fears learners might have at the start of the course.
  • Invite learners to express their expectations for the course and the course leader.
  • Give learners opportunities to express themselves, share their experience, and work in teams.
  • Build in fun, breaks, activities, and games, as appropriate.
  • Display enthusiasm for the course yourself (if you expect learners to be enthusiastic).


After the Course

  • Phone, email, or meet learners to follow up.
  • Send out an evaluation form to ask for learners’ opinions and suggestions.
  • Send a thank you letter to each participant.
  • Send a thank you letter to each participant’s supervisor and ask about the effectiveness of the training on a post-course survey.
  • Send a certificate (for each participant) to be presented by the supervisor.


Amazing things happen when you’ve cultivated healthy relationships. Not only does it lead to more business, it also leads to less problems. Have you noticed when people like you, they won’t give you a hard time? Even if they don’t want to be in class, they’ll make the best of the situation.  


This leads me to my favorite mantra of all time—a quote from Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s even in my Langevin bio! So, what are you doing to build a strong relationship with your learners?


For a more indepth look at building rapport in the classroom, check out our Advanced Instructional Techniques workshop!


Dealing with Difficult Participants

Marsha has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. She went on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School and practiced civil litigation for a few years. While working for a company as their in-house legal counsel, Marsha fell into a training position and never looked back! Each day, Marsha brings passion and excitement to her workshops, always encouraging her participants to find their own passion as well. Outside of the classroom, Marsha loves to spend time with her family, travel, and stay active. Of course her main obsession is Elvis! Some people might think she’s a little over-the-top about him, but doesn’t everyone have an Elvis shrine in their home? Maybe not…

Tags: tips-for-trainers

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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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