Whether online or in person, interactive training helps improve class participation and retention of the subject material. Finding ways to make your training interactive starts with knowing what you want to accomplish with the session. After that, it’s a matter of finding ways to get that message across so the audience feel like they’re participating and not just listening to you lecture the entire time.
Use the introduction of your training to get participants involved right from the start. Break into groups of two or three, and ask them to introduce themselves and describe what they want to learn. Include an icebreaker question to make it more fun, such as, “If you had all the money in the world, what would you be doing right now?” Quickly go around the room to find out what each group wants to learn, and write the answers on the whiteboard. If you are using live online training with chat availability, assign groups and let them chat privately. Not only does this encourage people to become more engaged, you also get a chance to adjust your training to meet participants’ needs.
Break into small groups, ask a question related to the material just covered and document what each group comes up with on a white board as a way to share information about the topic. Another activity might involve asking a question and turning it into a contest to see which groups get the right answer. You can also ask a question or give a poll with several choices, and ask each group to provide an opinion. Use group activities especially after breaks and lunch to keep the audience alert and ready to jump back into the training.
Creating exercises that pertain to the topic you just covered works well for both online and traditional classroom training. Even using quick question-and-answer exercises helps reinforce learning while identifying any areas that may need more coverage. Encourage people to answer by throwing out pieces of candy for a bit more interactive fun. Online exercises help break up sections of the course while also making sure students really read through the section. Incorporate the use of graphics and polls to make the exercises more interesting.
When audience members have a question, occasionally put the class to work instead of answering the question yourself. Simply ask the class if they have the answer and let someone provide it. Next, either verify that it’s the correct answer or encourage the group to vote on whether think it’s correct or not. Encouraging the group to get involved helps reinforce the material while also causing everyone to think for themselves, rather than wait for you to provide the answer.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.