Last Updated on January 4, 2021

Welcome to Day 2 of the free course on Creating Effective Lessons. Today, let’s look at how to keep your learners attentive and engaged for the duration of the training session. By the way, if you missed Day 1 you can find it here.

How to keep your learners' attention

Yesterday we talked about what motivates adult learners. Now that you know what motivates them, you might be wondering how to design and deliver a session that keeps the learners engaged and interested in the training?

1. Showing Enthusiasm as the Trainer

First and foremost, show enthusiasm!

Your participants will be more engaged if you teach something you are passionate about because your enthusiasm will shine through.

Enthusiasm, when teaching, is infectious.

So, unless you can fake enthusiasm, choose a topic you like to talk about, be it soft skills, equality and diversity or something else.

Even if you are pressured into teaching something that you are not naturally enthusiastic about (because your boss has asked you to give the training for example), try and find elements of the topic that do interest you in some way and build on that interest.

2.Use Body Language Appropriately

An enthusiastic freelance trainer and teacher

Body language can be a powerful tool at your disposal.

Make sure you make eye contact and have a good posture that portrays confidence.

You can also use hand gestures to make a point and make your delivery lively (but without exaggerating!).

Also, make sure that you dress appropriately to make a good impression.

3. Use Your Voice for Maximum Effect

Just like your body language, your voice is also a tool that can be used to hold your participants’ attention.

Have you ever listened to someone speaking in a very monotonous voice and lost the will to listen after one minute?

Then you know how important it is to vary the tone of your voice as you speak to your audience, in order to keep their attention alive. Also, remember to project your voice so participants can hear you.

There are many great books you can buy about using your voice including:

In many locations worldwide, Toastmasters is an excellent group who organise regional clubs where you can practice and learn public speaking.

4. Include Games and Activities

As mentioned in lesson 1, people are more motivated to learn if they can be actively engaged in the learning process and be creative.

Games and activities are great tools for this purpose. You can include activities such as:

  • Drawing mind maps
  • Quizzes
  • Small group discussions
  • Divide participants into small groups and ask them to design a short presentation together and deliver it in front of the class
  • Brainstorming
  • Roleplays
  • Games
  • Problem-solving
  • Discussing case studies
  • Organise structured debates
  • Asking questions to your participants to guide and/or reinforce their learning

5. Space Is Your Friend!

You can use space in the room to provide variety. We will talk in more detail about the importance of the environment for a good learning experience in lesson 3.

For now, though, suffice to say that you can ask participants to move around or use different types of seating layouts to create variety in your sessions.

An activity in which participants need to move around is particularly good after a lunch break, to avoid the afternoon slump!

6. Include Multimedia

It is always good to include a variety of media such as images, graphics, videos, audio files etc. to keep learners interested.

These media can also be the starting point for an interesting discussion.

7. Tell a Short Story

Stories and anecdotes are always good tools not only to help people remember things, but also to attract their attention.

In particular, stories are good to introduce a new topic and instigate curiosity in learners.

For adult learners, it is good to tell an anecdote that they can relate to, maybe something that relates to their everyday life.

8. Use Humour But Don’t Try to Be a Comedian

Not everybody is good at using humour and telling jokes, so do not do anything you do not feel comfortable with, otherwise, it will seem awkward.

However, if you can use it, humour is very helpful (without overdoing it) to keep your participants engaged.

9. Give Coffee Breaks

Using coffeee breaks in classroom training

Regular breaks are essential to make sure that your participants don’t become too exhausted by the end of the session.

How many breaks to give depends on the lengths of the session, but you can also play it by ear if you sense that the group is tired and needs a short break.

10. Plan Your Session in Advance

As the say (often attributed to Benjamin Franklin) goes: “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.

Therefore, it is important to plan your sessions carefully to make sure that you include the right balance of activities and content delivery.

Of course, the plan can be flexible, depending on your participants’ needs and reactions, but it is good to have a guide.

So, this is it for this lesson! Tomorrow we will talk about the teaching environment. How do you create the best environment for your learners and why is it important?

Bye for now. Valeria – Ready to read Day 3 of Trainers BootCamp?

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Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds

Valeria has been involved with education for over 16 years. She has taught in the UK at the University of Bath and Cardiff Metropolitan University (where she got her PhD), in addition to working as a researcher at Exeter University. Valeria additionally has several years of experience of also working with Ofsted and Cardiff University in management roles & is she is the founder of Symonds Training.