As a trainer you are a change agent. The purpose of training is to change behavior. If you want to change the behaviors of the people you are training you need to find a way to engage them.
This can be a challenge for all of us for a number of reasons:
- Trainers have a tendency to teach in the manner in which they like to learn. Not everyone learns the same way you do.
- Trainers have a tendency to teach in a manner that mimics how they were taught. If you went through training that was straight lecture with bad powerpoint, you may be prone to teach the same way. If you went through training that was one way communication, from the front of the room to the students, you may teach the same way. If you went through training where the trainer always picked on one or two people in class, you might do the same. If you went through training where you were yelled at continually, you may tend to yell a lot.
- Trainers avoid activities they are personally uncomfortable with. If you hate small group work, you will often not use small group work in your class. If you hate teach back sessions, you will usually skip that in your classes.
- Trainers avoid activities where they think they may get push back from the students. A percentage of the people will be uncomfortable with some interactive activities. That is ok as long as the class is a mixture of a variety of activities.
The key is to step back and seriously evaluate how you teach. Objectively ask yourself if you are truly engaging the audience. This needs to be done with a critical eye. It is easy to say the audience was engaged because they laughed, they smiled, they told you how great you were, and they keep bringing you back. Those are all nice things but, ask yourself if behaviors have truly changed because of your training. If the answer is no then they are having fun, but they are not necessarily engaged in learning. You need to determine if you are truly a change agent, or if your are just very entertaining. Nothing wrong with being entertaining, but changing behaviors has a better chance of changing lives and saving lives.