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Seb Anthony

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How do you get delegates to set personal objectives?


I usually ask delegates at the beginning of a workshop what they hope to learn/how will they know if the day has been a success? This is usually done as part of the introductions.

However I often get bland/meaningless answers which just restate the course title. ie. 'I want to learn about time management'. When I probe further I often get nothing specific.

I know training get be more effective if:
1, Learners identify & articulate their learning goal
2. The workshop it is related to learner's learning need.

So how can I get learner's to identify & express their learning needs?

I know that in the 'theory' delegates with their line manager will have identified their training needs before the workshop. But the real world I operate in (local government) is not like that!

Any inspiring ideas anyone?

Maybe I need to change the language I use, try an alternative exercise or give up and plough on with the workshop regardless!

All suggestions welcome...
derek hughes

4 Responses

  1. challenge them
    Hi Derek

    It takes a bit more time but challenge each of them as you go “round the table”;
    ~What particular aspect of time management creates a problem for you?
    ~Who do you need to manage in this way?
    ~Where will that be of use to you in your daily work?

    Who, what, where, when and why are good starter words for these questions. Use silence if you get a non- answer.

    Avoid accepting “The same as she said” as an answer…

    Tell them in advance that you are going to ask them this.


    Ask them at the end to tell you one thing they will do differently tomorrow as a result of the training.

    I hope this helps


  2. Unconscious incompetence
    I think its important to balance this with ‘unconscious incompetence’. Learners frequently dont know what they need to know, they haven’t discovered it yet so its hardly surprising they cant articulate it.

    Ask any learner driver what they knew and what they thought they knew!

  3. Ask them before the event
    One way that works for me is to send out the questions as part of their joining instructions. That way, they can begin the thinking and, as Russ says, at least they know that you are going to ask them.

    Experience tells me that 50% of the attendees will have an answer when asked. 40% prefer to think on their feet and will have an answer by the time we get to them.

    The other 10% will never give it a second thought!

  4. Learning objectives

    If you are on the payroll of the organisation where the training is being delivered, then maybe you should ask the line manager why X is attending the training. What does s/he want to see improved? What would make his/her investment a successful one? As a pro, you should be looking for some objectives against which to measure performance.

    If you’re an external consultant, just accept the pay cheque gracefully! It ain’t your problem.



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