By Antonio Tezen, Senior Technical Instructor, Halliburton
No matter what topic they teach, all learning and development professionals face the same challenge: audience engagement. To transfer new knowledge and skills to training session participants, instructors must first secure and hold their audiences’ attention.
There are several ways to accomplish this. Some researchers suggest that hands-on activities are superior to classroom lectures to achieve desired long-term behavioral changes. However, instructors may not always have the option to deliver training in an on-the-job setting. The subject matter may involve theoretical knowledge, complex formulas, or concepts that must be delivered to large numbers of participants under tight deadlines.
That said, there are techniques all trainers can use to maximize knowledge acquisition through audience engagement. Here are five tips to elevate audience engagement:
By following these tips, instructors can engage session participants actively, which can facilitate learning in a way that pure lecture settings may not be able to match. However, in some training sessions, class size, time constraints, or settings may be a barrier to achieving a robust level of audience participation.
A large class can limit the number of participants in an active discussion. The need to cover a great deal of information and highly technical concepts within a short timeframe can be an impediment to free-ranging conversations. A field-based training session can pose other restrictions on audience participation.
In these cases, technology tools can be an excellent way to engage audiences while also tracking training results and keeping sessions moving forward to meet deadlines. TurningPoint interactive PowerPoint software, a learning tool developed by Turning Technologies, gives instructors access to audience engagement tools they can use in real time. Instructors can embed questions intended to spark responses directly into PowerPoint presentations and allow audience members to respond via a ResponseCard keypad or mobile device. Results then are displayed on the slide —and the instructor is not required to leave the presentation screen.
The use of this type of instant polling software provides numerous advantages. First and foremost, it keeps audiences engaged, which is the key to successful learning. It also gives training session instructors a way to gauge participant retention in real time. This can allow instructors to make adjustments, such as spending more time going over a concept that poll results reveal is poorly understood. It also can help instructors keep sessions on track by encouraging participation in a way that doesn’t allow participants to stray off topic.
Instant polling software is also an excellent method for involving participants who otherwise would be reluctant to speak in front of the entire class. Since answers are presented in aggregate form, all can participate and have their voices heard. And instant polling is a great way to reach younger training session participants since it uses interactive methods tech-savvy students have come to expect.
There are many strategies that promote audience participation, and instructors who are seeking new methods should evaluate available tools and techniques to find the approach that fits their unique needs. Above all, it’s important to remember that securing and holding training session participants’ attention is central to the learning process.
Antonio Tezen is senior technical instructor at Halliburton, one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. With nearly 70,000 employees in approximately 80 countries, the company serves the upstream oil and gas industry throughout the lifecycle of the reservoir—from locating hydrocarbons and managing geological data, to drilling and formation evaluation, well construction and completion, and optimizing production through the life of the field. For more information, visit http://www.halliburton.com.
Turning Technologies is a global leader of response systems. The company’s response solutions create engaging, interactive presentations in any environment. Its suite of polling products and response devices enable teachers, professors, trainers, and administrators to gather vital data needed to increase the effectiveness of instruction and presentations. For more information, visit http://www.turningtechnologies.com.