Breaks are an important part of any presentation. They allow participants to get up and stretch, use the washroom and interact with fellow participants. Regular breaks every 50 minutes will enhance the learning environment and keep people fresh throughout the day. Lack of breaks or long stretches between breaks results in a restless audience where people are more focused on wondering when the next break will be than they are are on the material being presented.
For you as the trainer breaks are an opportunity to gather your thoughts, catch your breath and determine what adjustments if any need to be made.
Breaks however, can also be a great learning opportunity for you. If you make yourself available during the breaks people will ask questions they would not ask in front of the group. If one person has the question it is likely a number of others do as well. You can address this after the break by saying “A great question came up on the break so lets talk about it.”
Breaks are an opportunity for people to share their personal stories and experiences they would not bring up in front of the group. During breaks I have had the opportunity to meet officers who have been shot in the line of duty and have learned of the heroic stories about people in the audience from their peers.
During breaks I have had people give me ideas on better ways to present thoughts and ideas covered during the presentation. I have had people bring up concerns they had with something I said believing we were of opposing minds. The resulting conversation made it clear we were on the same page, I just needed to do a better job of expressing the idea.
Breaks are an opportunity for people to let you know about quotes, references, books, audio recordings, courses or other trainers that would be of interest to you.
The conversations on breaks have provided me with insight for future articles or blog posts and have helped me identify future presenters for the legacy of Excellence Conference.
If you are open to it, breaks may be some of the best learning opportunities you will ever have as a trainer.
P.S. April 1 the cost to register for the Legacy of Excellence Conference goes up so register now and take advantage of the great early registration pricing.