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Adrian Pitt

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Training introductions – like “creeping death”?!


My partner is a great advocate for training!

"I hate that bit at the start where we all have to say who we are and what we do."

I can empathise. I'm self-employed and not a huge fan of networking meetings where each entrepreneur stands up and does their sixty-second "pitch". It's like "creeping death" around the room.

Any tips and techniques from fellow trainers on how to make this part of the process a bit more bearable?


10 Responses

  1. A couple of techniques i’ve
    A couple of techniques i’ve seen implemented really well:

    1 – introduce the person next to you – get certain bits of information from one person.

    2 – as above with fixed questions but you go round the room asking a different person a different question so multiple people say something about you.

  2. I agree with Blake – as
    I agree with Blake – as someone who always feels awkward in these types of situations I feel much more comfortable talking about the person next to me oddly enough!

  3. I agree, I attended a session
    I agree, I attended a session last year with 20 people and it took forever for everyone to introduce themselves and I didn’t remember the first few people by the end of it.

    I’ve done it in a few ways. Like a version of speed dating – speed intros. Half the group stay seated and half revolve around the seated group. Each pair of 30 seconds each to say ho and introduce and after the minute, the revolving group members move onto the next person. It’s quick and quite engaging.

    I have also incorporated the intros into the energiser so instead of sitting down. I run an exercise in a circle where people throw a ball around and nominate people to answer a moral dilemma question and they say who they are when they get the ball, at the same time as answering the question. That also works well.

  4. As I’ve got older I’ve got
    As I’ve got older I’ve got more comfortable with doing this and while I used to get annoyed by it and didn’t see the value, I think that was just my reluctance to speak publicly kicking in. I think it’s really nice to find out something about everyone but I agree with the logistical issues raised by Clive, in a 20 person group it’s time-consuming. I’ve seen it done with name cards (‘write your name and something you want to get out of today’) but I do think this loses the face-to-face interaction that’s so important in initially breaking down barriers. If there’s a lot of group work or pair work in the session I think this type of face-to-face ice breaker and connecting is very important.

  5. Thanks everyone, some great
    Thanks everyone, some great responses!

    Clive, funnily enough (I can reveal this as my colleagues aren’t signed up to Training Zone!) for Christmas, I’ve bought them each a “Thumb Ball”. It’s basically a large stress ball with hexagons all over it. Inside each hexagon is a topic i.e. favourite colour, i.e. ideal holiday destination etc. Delegates throw the ball to each other and when the trainer shouts “Stop” whoever has the ball looks at the topic under their thumb and answers!

  6. Many people do seem to have
    Many people do seem to have some reluctance to initially speak out about themselves, but they will have to start talking at some time and as early as possible, so it may as well be then.
    It’s a means to get the conversation started and to find out about each other; I’ve been on courses where delegates from the same organisation didn’t actually know each other.
    I personally do not like talking about someone else, but that is a personal preference.

  7. I’m not sure why so may
    I’m not sure why so may trainers have a desperation to get participants to talk at the outset. It can cut into valuable learning time and often serves little purpose. To me it has little more value than an ‘ice-breaker’ which is unrelated to the theme of the training.

    I tend to set up training rooms cabaret style and I ask participants to introduce themselves to each other around their own tables so they feel more comfortable with each other. Then I ask each person who gives feedback from a small group activity to introduce themselves just before they speak.

    I also get them involved in plenary discussions as early as possible, so they get a chance to talk and (if appropriate) introduce themselves as they do so.

    Why embarrass people before they get settled?

  8. Never ever ever go round the
    Never ever ever go round the room!

    I use introduction cards. (A5 card) They have a course logo and on the front and on the reverse have name, company, position, what is the No1 thing you want to learn today, rate yourself 1 to 10 etc (or similar)

    These are filled in during the awkward arrival stage when many people are glad of something to do.

    Depending on numbers in the group there is now a number of ways of using the information.

    Most important part is to collect them, display them and give them back at the end making sure you did what they asked for.

    “What’s in it for me” is why people are there so if we address this we send people away happy.

  9. I once did an ‘around the
    I once did an ‘around the room’ intro and asked people the usual, name, role, why you’re here etc… and then I threw in “If you won £6.6m on the National Lottery, what would you do?”. I had a variety of answers but my favourite was “Buy and island and call it Mindy!”. Didn’t really know what to say to that.

  10. With a manageable number I
    With a manageable number I use a question that is linked to the training so people can introduce themselves with a subject centred context. For example the introduction for managing performance is to think about a situation where a manager past or present did something that motivated you. I always start myself to give reflectors a minute to gather their thoughts and everyone seems to flow well.
    With a larger number I feel it is important to understand what my outcome is for the introduction. I have usually made a room map as people some in so I do not need it to use names etc. The outcome is then to enable people to get to know each other and start to relax. So I will ask them to get into 3’s or 4′, its informal so a 5 is OK and a pair is OK and to talk to each other about their expectations of the training.
    I then ask each group to report back so this also provides me with some of the outcomes from the group. As we progress I ask people to work with different people so by the end of the session everyone knows everyone else.

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