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Ways to inspire curiosity in learners before an event


I am trying to brainstorm inspiring and inventive ideas on how to engage your learners before they turn up to a learning event. That could be in the way of posters, or invitations, or prework or something else.

Does anyone have any ideas of how to create a real buzz around a learning event before the learners even enter the room?

All ideas and suggestions are welcomed. Thanks in advance.
Emma Westwood

7 Responses

  1. Pre-event
    At my last company, we ran a Essential Management Skills programme which we had invested quite a lot of money and time in designing and marketing internally. It was really important that the delegates buy into the objectives of the programme and not just see it as ‘another management course’, and also that they completed all the pre-course work. To facilitate this, we introduced the idea of an informal one-hour meeting about two weeks before the course was due to start. We made it a breakfast meeting and provided some food and tea/coffee, and marketed it as an opportunity to meet the trainer, get to know a little about some of the other delegates. and find out more about what to expect on the programme.

    It was really successful because it meant that on the programme the trainer could skip past the sometimes tedious introductions and get right into the core content. The trainer was also able to form a relationship with each of the delegates before the cours even began (which helped when he was chasing pre-work and welcoming delegates onto the programme as they arrived) and meant the ‘group’ had already formed. Finally, as it was a residential programme, it was a good opportunity to finalise details of travel etc. with delegates without having to send loads of emails.

    Hope this makes sense — email me if you want to know more. Good luck!

  2. Make it a magic event
    Some thoughts … you could try:-

    A welcome letter giving all the information about the course in a more informal style than the usual joining instruction-type letter. This could also include pre-course work.

    An online forum where the learners can ‘meet’ to discuss their motivation and fears.

    Buddy up the learners and let them have plenty of opportunity for contact before the event so that they can feel comfortable about knowing at least one person on the first day.

    Send email posters a bit at a time (like the old ‘say what you see’ programme) and trickle them over time to inspire curiousity.

    Place physical posters in unusual places or in unusual ways – upside down, for instance.

    Send text messages with ideas about what they will get from the event.

    Hope this helps.

    Jooli Atkins
    Matrix FortyTwo

  3. A bit chicken and egg
    This is a bit of a chicken and egg situation, but as an end of course exercise to review the main messages, I have asked delegates to design a poster to promote the course to others. If you are running a pilot for example, you could do this and then use it to engage future delegates


  4. pre-work online
    To get your delegates all to the same level of knowledge and give them something to talk about when they arrive, use an e-learning course with case studies and some funnies. This will also help you assess the level of knowledge in the room ahead of the day and enable you to tailor you session to suite the room every time

    Very cost effective!!!.

    Hope this helps!!…happy to help if you need more [email protected]

  5. Make personal contact before the event
    Have the training supplier (not necessarily the person who will be delivering the event) make telephone contact with the participants to discuss their aspirations, objectives and potential fears for the event. Offer to answer any questions they may have and look to finalise arrangements etc. Texting a message advising to expect the call within a specified timeframe will allow the participant to prepare for the call and therefore increase the value of the telephone contact.

  6. Breaking the ice – prework
    I like to go around a company prior to the course and meet the delegates in their environment. Deal with any apprehension or questions. Also to gain a better understanding of compnay operation.
    I also think the delegates have a chance to meet the trainer face to face a good practice.

  7. Pre-coursework and clear objectives
    We provide courses within a network of member organisations across a wide geographic area. The service is full of pragmatists, so it is important that delegates feel that the training will be relevant and worth their travel time and effort. In our training programme and application forms, we make the objectives (and the level the course is aimed at) as clear as possible. If there are prerequisites, we also make this clear. Where relevant, we ask key questions about their level of experience (tick boxes, so the application form is not a deterrent). This should ensure (though it doesn’t always!) that the course is right for the delegates, and the delegates are at an appropriate level for the course.

    For some courses, we give pre-course exercises, usually involving case studies that delegates can see are directly relevant to their work. The first part of the course is then based on the pre-course work. So they have already started to become involved in the material before the course has started.

    To stimulate excitement at the start of the course itself, I make up a pack for each delegate, in an A4 envelope. This always engenders a buzz of excitement about what is in their pack. Each pack contains at least some of the handouts, including a printout of the PowerPoint presentation. I colour-code the names on the envelope, and put in a matching sweet; at break time, I use these colours to move the delegates into different groups (which I’ve pre-selected to give an appropriate mix). I also put a Winnie the Pooh card into each, and after lunch I put a Pooh toy on each table and ask delegates to sit at the table which has the toy that matches their card. I ask for the cards back at the end.


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