Essential Group Training Techniques & Best Practices
As a facilitator, it’s your job to ensure all participants are getting the most out of a training session. That can be easier said than done. Here are some group training techniques and tips to help you provide a productive, positive experience for everyone involved.
Structuring Your Session
The way you lay out your group training session plays a big role in the way it’s received. These tips will help you provide structure to your planning and thinking:
- Come In With An Objective: Make sure everyone participating understands why they’re there. Being clear about the objective of the training helps ground everyone, gets the group on the same page and instills meaning and purpose in the experience. Clearly address this in the introduction of your presentation, create a slide that clearly lays it out, and continue to come back to it throughout the session.
- Set Clear Goals: Once you've laid the groundwork for why everyone’s at the training, set out clear goals to measure against. For example, if the objective of the session is to “understand effective customer service,” some goals you’ll measure against throughout the training could be things like “identify three essential components of good customer service,” “practice active listening” and “empathize with customers.”
- Map it Out: With an objective and goals laid out, it’s really helpful to then structure your session as a sort of “road map” to how you’ll get there. This gives participants a sense of consistency, helps them understand what to expect, and offers benchmarks for their learning. Think of this as a table of contents for your presentation. In order for this to be most effective, make sure you ground each section of the session in your goals. For example, maybe one hour is dedicated solely to “identifying three essential components of good customer service.” Participants then have a clear sense of the purpose of this segment of the session and understand how that relates to the overall training objective. Framing it this way gives participants a clear sense of meaning and helps them understand what to pay attention to. As a road map, your goals can help to keep you on track the whole session.
- Gamify It: No one’s too old, professional or serious for a little fun! Weaving in opportunities for more engagement and interaction helps energize your training session and keep people awake and interested. For example, Thumballs are a wonderful way to get participants active, chatting and thinking at the same time. Simply toss and share your reaction based on the prompt lying under your thumb for fun and intuitive topics that create a stress-free environment optimized for training.
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Developing Your Skills
The skills you bring to the table as a leader and facilitator are just as important as the content and structure of your session. The tone you set with these skills affects the energy of the session, participant energy, and the overall success of the program. Here are some group training techniques to keep in mind:
The training session should be a conversation, not a lecture. This keeps people engaged and paying attention. Make sure you incorporate activities that require group participation, asking probing questions and empowering participants to think through the answers and participate. Remember, your role as a facilitator is to connect with the group in order to facilitate productive engagement.
Observing & Analyzing
Pay close attention to how participants are engaged throughout the session. Be flexible and alter your attitude accordingly. For example, if you notice people are starting to fade, integrate a game. If people seem very engaged, maybe start asking more questions or break them into conversation groups. Ensure you have an arsenal of ideas to keep you flexible and responsive to the group’s needs.
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Questioning & Listening
Learning how to ask effective questions that gets the group to engage is essential. As a facilitator, asking questions helps you check for comprehension and encourage critical thinking. Facilitators should possess good probing skills. Try applying the “apple” technique to guide your questioning and ensure a productive conversation:
- A: Ask the question.
- P: Pause to allow participants to comprehend the question and think of an answer.
- P: Pick a member to provide the answer.
- L: Listen to the answer.
- E: Elaborate on the answers obtained.
The way you respond to the conversation helps educate everyone involved, if you do it thoughtfully and with empathy. Rather than saying “you’re wrong, here's the right answer,” ask probing questions like “why do you think that’s the answer?”, or encourage other people in the training to offer up their own feedback. The key here is to get participants to think critically, engaging the wider group in the conversation and thought process.
This is the underlying ethos of group training, the idea that participants learn best among themselves—through engagement, interaction, and conversation. It’s what makes you a facilitator rather than a teacher or lecturer. Group training is all about empowering participants to learn from themselves, by engaging them in discussion, asking provoking questions, and guiding them through a lesson in a way that makes sense and interests them. Keep this in mind throughout your entire session: are you giving your participants the tools they need to learn?
Whether you’re a new facilitator or are looking for ways to improve your training sessions, HRDQ can help. Explore our collection of Training Facilitation Tools for tools that can help you strengthen your sessions, or browse our collections by topic to discover a vast library of training materials.