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How to Motivate Your Learners

Posted by Langevin Team on 8/20/18 8:00 AM
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Within the field of Human Resource Development, commonly accepted definitions of training, education, and development are:

Trainingthe skills and knowledge to perform the tasks in a current job. It is short-term and immediate with a goal of performance improvement.

Educationthe skills and knowledge to prepare for a future job or next position.

Developmentthe skills and knowledge acquired on the job to enhance career opportunities and to perform different jobs over the long term.


Establishing the benefit of training in the mind of a participant should be easy. By definition, well-designed training is relevant to the participants’ job. If you can show the participants how their job will be easier, faster, or more lucrative (for them), motivation in the classroom should be a snap. It’s the ultimate WIIFM (what’s in it for me), or benefit statement, for the learner when they see they’re personally benefiting from the training.


However, all classroom sessions are not necessarily training. Sometimes it may be educational or even developmental. Other times, you may have a mixed group with some of the class there for training, while others are not.


It can be a challenge to motivate learners when some of the them are not there for training. How about when an organization is practicing “employee development?” It’s not part of their job but it’s good to know. Or when an attendee is there because he/she is working on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)? Or what about everyone’s favorite, mandatory annual training? There’s also the case where some of your participants are there simply to fill the seats (BOC—bottoms on chairs). Now you’ve got a motivational challenge!


Here are a few tips for motivating your learners and showing them the benefit of the session:

Show learners the long-term benefit: “This will prepare you to fill in for a section lead if he/she is unavailable” or “This will help you put the pieces of the puzzle together.”


Let learners identify the benefit: This is always a great question to ask after you’ve stated the objective of the session: “How can this help you?” If they can answer that question, you are golden. People seldom argue with their own data. Of course, if you use this one, you better have a back-up benefit statement in your back pocket in case you don’t get any response from the group.


Identify “off-label,” incremental benefits: When a medication has a use different from its primary purpose, it’s referred to as “off-label.” For example, a medication that helps your headache but is also useful for weight loss. So, perhaps in your session, there may be pieces that represent some stand-alone value. For example, “This worksheet is a great tool to validate your e-learning, but it is also a tool you can use to do an objective, apples-to-apples comparison of vendor offerings.”


Depend heavily on group activities: In a group, people generally “cooperate to graduate.” It’s hard to be passive or push back when you are part of a group that is on board with the program. This applies to courses in general—make the course fun and interactive with frequent breaks and group activities. Even if participants don’t see how it relates to their job, they’ll likely be happy to come to your training again if they are having fun.


What tips can you share for motivating learners and showing them the benefit of attending your course? I’d love to add some tried-and-true techniques to my toolbox!


To learn more about what master trainers do to create a positive climate for learning, lead groups, motivate learners, and deal with difficult participants, check out our 3-day Advanced Instructional Techniques workshop!


Dealing with Difficult Participants

Tags: facilitation skills, instructional techniques

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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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