“Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I may remember.  Involve me and I learn.” 
–Benjamin Franklin

Let’s talk about your trainings, shall we?  

  • The Mandatory Ones (compliance driven, usually considered dry & boring, or a necessary evil)
  • The Situational Ones (those that get scheduled because something happened or someone said something)   
  • The Ones that you’ve been delivering forever and just keep on delivering them the same way (the orientation or volunteer training program with clip art and references from days long ago)  

Each of these trainings can be the equivalent of checking off a box on a checklist OR an opportunity to educate and engage your audience.  

It’s more common than you think.

Many small to medium sized nonprofits have often delegated the training function to people who are well-intentioned but not well-trained in the ways of designing and leading training sessions.  They don’t have a dedicated staff person, but rather pass the responsibility or duty onto a program coordinator or a volunteer.  They hand them the files from the previous training and ask them to make it happen.  And they are happy to help but are often left wondering – Now What?  

Just like the responses to meeting requests – responses to the announcement for trainings can fall into the same 3 categories.  

  1.  Glee.  YES!!!! Total and absolute excitement to be in a room
  2.  Dread.  This training again.  Ugh.  
  3.  Hostage.  I have to be here, but I don’t like it and I don’t understand why.  

What impact do you think this is having on your organization?  

Why do you think this is?  

What can you do about it?  

You can START them differently.

The first 10 to 15 minutes of your training session is PRIME ENGAGEMENT REAL ESTATE.  

Are you leveraging the power of these important moments?  

Change The Way You START Your Trainings

What if you were to be more deliberate about the BEGINNINGS of your trainings?  Here are 3 changes you can make, starting today, to help you create more impactful and engaging trainings in your organization.  

    1. Take an inventory. Think about the 3 most frequent trainings you attend and/or lead.  How do they typically start?  What’s working about the beginnings of those trainings?  What isn’t?  What is the mood or tone that’s set as a result?  Get clear about how your most important trainings begin. And if you’re not sure, make it a goal to notice this about the trainings you lead and/or attend for the rest of this month.  How could you create more engagement from the audience at the start?  What kinds of stories or examples can you use at the beginning to create the context for the session? Take notes.  Take notice.  
    2.  Begin with the End in Mind.  Think about what you want/need them to know by the time the training is finished.  How are you accomplishing this goal?  One of the questions I ask my clients when they bring me in to lead a training or a retreat is “At the end of the session, what would you like the participants to be thinking, asking, saying about the experience?” “What do you, as the sponsor, want to be thinking, asking and saying about the experience?”  It gives you a different perspective on the preparation and delivery of the session when you begin with the end in mind.  
    3.  Engage their Brilliance.  Adults don’t enjoy being lectured to.  Adults don’t enjoy sitting still for hours on end.  Adults don’t enjoy being read slide after slide of content.  Adults like to share their knowledge.  Adults like to engage with others in the room.  Adults like to be entertained and engaged.  

    The people in your training room are engaged in your mission – either as board members, staff members or volunteers.  They care about what you are doing. They have an interest in being of service.  One or two bad trainings can start to impact how they feel about showing up.  

    What questions can you ask them to get them engaged and find out what they already know or what questions they have about the topic? I often share the overview and purpose of the training and then ask the participants to get into small groups of 2 or 3 to generate a list of questions they have and a list of expectations they have for the session.  As the facilitator and trainer, this gives me some insight into what’s on their hearts and minds right now and I can use this to my advantage AND theirs.  I can point back to these several times during the training.  This helps people to feel seen and heard.  This helps ME ensure I’m connecting to their questions & expectations.  This kind of inquiry at the outset of a meeting can go a long way towards creating context, alignment, discovery and engagement.

    BE DELIBERATE about how you START your trainings.  


    1.  What are the key trainings being held in your organization?   
    2.  What are you willing to do to be more deliberate about how you START those trainings?  
    3.  What impact would that have on you and those who attend?  


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