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Five ways to kick-start the learning on a programme before anyone shows up – including the trainer

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Picture the scene:  a sullen looking group of participants for your training day.  They are reluctant to be there, feeling forced and resentful.  They display resistance in their posture.  They are ready to attack you, picking up on the slightest slips or hesitations.

Now picture a different scene:  here your participants are keen to learn.  They are intrigued by what might happen, ready to participate and contribute.  Your every suggestion is met with enthusiasm and collaborative intelligence.

And these are the same people – depending on how they are treated before the event.  Yes, almost everything about the state in which your participants show up is in your control, or at least subject to your influence.

Here are five ways to kick-start the learning, by inspiring the desire of your learners in advance.

1 The title

This is where the marketing begins.  Is the title flat, dry and plain to the point of killing all spirit?  Or does it contain a promise, action and hope?  Is it ‘Concrete: An introduction’ or ‘How you can benefit by unleashing the power of the world’s most underrated material’?

2 The promise

What can you offer by way of likely results?  Are these relevant to your potential candidates and – just as important – their managers, who will determine whether they attend and how much to support people when they return with their new skills?

3 The style

Let people know what kind of experience they are going to have.  Tell them in advance whether it’s going to be a series of lectures, with question and answer; or an experiential, participative programme.

4 The invitation

You control or influence the invitation, sometimes called the joining instructions.  Make it friendly as well as informative; personalise it where possible.  Include a clear agenda, all the logistics, a contact number in case of questions. 

5 The surprise package

What else would be useful to send beforehand?  Perhaps a reading and resource list, an intriguing online questionnaire, or a request to bring a photo or object to the workshop – something to create anticipation and a sense that this is going to be a worthwhile experience.

All of these tips address and collectively answer the most compelling question on the mind of any potential participant: namely, ‘What’s in it for me?’

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